UNLOADED: An Exhibition Exploring Guns in Our Culture

Published On February 11, 2015 | By Zoe Hannah | The Arts
Photo Credit: UNLOADED

Still from Andrew Ellis Johnson’s ‘Massacre of the Innocents’

In a continuous mission to generate peace through the use of responsive artwork, curator and CMU professor Susanne Slavick is organizing UNLOADED this spring at SPACE, a gallery in downtown Pittsburgh. Presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the exhibition will feature local, regional, and international artists that are working to create a powerful multimedia response to gun violence. When asked to provide a mission statement for the exhibit, Slavick said, “I see the exhibit as part of ongoing efforts to heighten our awareness of the impact of guns in our society, and to hopefully reenergize our efforts to reduce that gun violence.”

Slavick, whose art will be showcased at this exhibition along with many other artists, has most recently been working on “Out of Rubble” (2011), a book and traveling exhibit dedicated to artists’ responses to “the aftermath of war.” Slavick hopes that UNLOADED will end up with a traveling tour, as well.

The visual artist uses photography, painting, and mixed media to elicit compelling, beautifully composed statements about violence. UNLOADED attendees can expect to see two of Slavick’s older works, “Resetting Sights” and “Romantic Resistance,” both of which are complex, multi-step, multi-material projects that “indirectly refer to violence against women or innocents.”

The exhibit will consist of 19 artists from Pittsburgh, New York, and even some from other countries. The artists are all issuing a response in some form or medium to the role of guns today, merging to create a call-to-action for the elimination of gun violence. Slavick told us, “Art can’t necessarily change anything in the world… I’m not saying that art will eliminate all of the millions of guns in this world, but I think some of the images in the show remind us or alert us to certain issues.” The curator is working to put together a gallery guide that will juxtapose statistics about gun violence with the work featured in UNLOADED, hoping to “reiterate that [the simple ownership or proximity of guns promotes gun violence] in a sort of compacted way.”

Cross for the Unforgiven by Mel Chin

‘Cross for the Unforgiven’ by Mel Chin

Lauren F. Adams, one of UNLOADED’s many artists, is extremely active, and currently working on four group exhibitions this year (in addition to this one). She is a painter and muralist in the process of creating the American Catastrophe Report – a mural at American University’s Katzen Arts Center.

NYC-based photographer, Nina Berman, has most recently produced “Homeland”: a series of photographs that explored the influence of militarization in America and abroad.

Dadpranks, a quirky group of visual artists, consists of Lauren Goshinski, Kate Hansen, Isla Hansen, Elina Malken, Nina Sarnelle and Laura A. Warman. The group creates vibrant videos and photographs that toy with new perspectives on pop culture and commonplace items.

Other artists include Joshua BienkoCasey Li BranderAnthony CervinoMel Chin, Cathy Colman, James DuesingJessica FenlonVanessa German, Jinshan, Andrew Ellis JohnsonJennifer Nagle MyersAdrian PiperDon PorcellaRenee Stout, and Stephanie Syjuco.

“It’s not an impartial show,” Slavick said of UNLOADED. “[But] sometimes I think [art] makes us understand things emotionally that we can’t understand intellectually.”

The UNLOADED exhibit opens Friday, February 13 at 11AM, and will continue on through the end of April, with a closing reception during the April 24 PGH Gallery Crawl. Space gallery is free and open to the public.

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