ENOUGH Violence features over 40 works contemporary artists from around the globe, including:
I am fortunate in having been spared any real violence in my life: mugged once in the streets of Glasgow, but other than that, nothing. Therefore, I came to the idea of interviewing people who have experienced violent events first-hand, perhaps even instigating those events themselves, allowing them to tell their stories and giving me something to work around. Once the interviews started, I realized that my response, the jewelry piece, was not enough… it needed to be given context, to be presented with the narrative upon which it was based. In collaboration with photographer, Simon Murphy, I decided to use a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach; presenting text, photographs and objects as a response. The dynamics and tensions created with these three approaches gives a rounded picture of how deeply violence can affect lives.
I’m influenced by the characteristics of children. Their actions pose questions simply yet poignantly about complex issues in the world today. A child’s viewpoint is innocent of cultural conventions. Their eyes and comments reveal to us just how corrupt social mechanisms are.
Most aboriginal cultures, including this country’s own native Americans, have adorned themselves with jewelry made of various animal parts such as feathers, fur, leather, claws, bones, or teeth. These objects served as talismanic charms and, in the form of the archetypal bear-claw necklace, gave a hunter/warrior the spirit and strength of the animal whose disabled ‘weapons’ he was wearing. Such a necklace was perceived as a symbol of bravery, strength and respect.
Brave III is made of 100 hand-gun-triggers, cut and torn from the dismembered weapons reclaimed from the Pittsburgh gun buy-back program Goods for Guns.
This urban mojo protects the wearer from the gun violence so prevalent in today’s culture.
Following a loss in 1999, as I walked in grief around one of the many lakes in Minneapolis, I found my first band-aid on the pavement. I thought about how easy it is to soothe a child’s wounds, and give comfort. How often had I relieved my wailing child’s grief simply by applying a band-aid? And I laughed at myself, wishing it was as simple to repair a broken heart.
Since then, I have developed an uncanny ability to find these discarded coverings (at parks, playgrounds and on sidewalks). I know that somewhere another wound has been exposed. And, prodded by these symbols, I continue to discover metaphors to contemplate. I question how it is that we heal ourselves—body and soul—after personal or social devastation, whether our healed scars protect us in some new stronger way, and how fragile or resilient we will be once we have been wounded.
Anyone who has ridden a New York City subway post-911 has heard the frequent broadcast warnings: “If you see something, say something!” or “Backpacks will be inspected!” Blast, If you See Something, Say Something, alludes to these cautionary announcements, and consists of sixteen altered volumes of an Encyclopedia Britannica. Brown wax seals the top and bottom of the cylindrical books, with black and red connective wires clamping onto metal hooks embedded in the top of each cylinder, calling to mind an improvised explosive device. However, this IED isantithetical to those homemade weapons, which aim to destroy life. When these altered books metaphorically discharge, the books imaginatively burst into streams of knowledge, which strike everyone in the target zone with either wisdom or propaganda. The artwork does not actually explode, but it certainly appears dangerous. As Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power.”
My career-long interest in ceramic history has led to my discovery of lost ceramic techniques employed by English, European and Asian potters in the Colonial period. As I use these techniques in my ceramic work, I explore the broader social, political, and environmental context of the period and address issues of invasion, cultural conflict, human rights, and profiteering that dominate our modern geopolitical world. Through my understanding of these forgotten technological processes with their specific historical context, the past becomes the present.
My work is concerned with life and existence in the inner-city. In the inner-city, one endures and is fascinated by the amount, variety and ubiquity of urban debris. Its pervasive presence informs the textures, forms, and palettes in my work. I am convinced that improvisation is at the heart of creativity. In my art I attempt to express not only aesthetic values, but social, moral and spiritual ones as well.
One of the functions of art is to strip us bare, reminding us of the fragility common to every human being across continents and centuries. Often, I will meet someone, and the visible weight of his or her life becomes almost unbearable to me, it rips me open. The objects that I make are an attempt to articulate this feeling.
Astray is one of several works in the series, Guardian Angels That Don’t Come Through. Many of us grew up with images of Guardian Angels, as well as a sense of a universal, collective agreement that protecting children from harm is the top priority among people of all nations. This piece represents the erosion of that agreement, as people choose other priorities over the safety and welfare of our children.
MAIMUNA FEROZE NANA
When I returned to Pakistan after a long absence, I was shocked by the treatment handed out to women and girls. I knew what I had to do: give voice to women not only in Pakistan, but all over the world. Only eight years ago, on my return to Italy, I isolated myself in our home in Umbria and was able to develop my new work, on a path towards purity and spirituality. The dolls capture a deep sense of abandonment, separation, and detachment, they are childhood objects and a remembrance of the past.
The subject matter of my work is narrative in disposition, and my ideation extends from personal responses to my own political views, and to areas relating to cultural iconography. The Columbine Survival Bracelet was created in response to the insane actions of two students who terrorized their school, killing many and psychologically wounding many more for the remainder of their lives. After watching Bowling for Columbine and hearing a NRA representative suggest that if everyone had been “armed” that day, the outcome would have been different, I wanted to create a bracelet as an expressive symbol of protection for students in the event that a similar episode occur.
Women hold up half the sky, but it seems it’s raining much too much. How does the mother of the entire human race disappear in such great numbers, how? Infanticide, death from hunger and disease…lack of medical care, child birth, sold into drudgery and sexual abuse, murder. Murder by families and husbands, loved ones…LOVED ONES.
I am an artist in residence at what is statistically the most violent high school in Pennsylvania. Rather than get lost in analyzing the statistics, I choose to explore the creative possibilities that are available to students in an underserved community. What beauty are the students capable of creating? How does the outward perception of a violent school limit a student’s inward ability to tap into artistic expression? Is there a meaningful connection between these students and other populations who exist in an environment of violence?
I grew up in an abusive family, and I incorporate my personal history, and the violent experiences of other women and girls, into my work. A Family Matter is a series of handmade gampi dresses that represent 30 Minnesota women who died as a result of domestic violence in 2009. The dresses are beautiful objects, representing the optimistic view women have about marriage. The garments appear similar, yet, each is unique. Juxtaposing the sweetness of the dress with a depiction of violence transforms an object, which usually provides comfort, into one with tortured qualities. Each dress is a page in a haunting narrative. It is my attempt to fully represent the on-going nightmare of domestic violence.
KEITH W. SMITH
My work, described as figurative narrative, is inspired by my personal experiences, beliefs, and concerns, and an interest in the human experience. The intention is to create empathy or contemplation, conveying motion and emotion, through gesture, expression and color. My use of monumental proportion and fragmentation of the figure focuses the viewer’s attention – in essence magnifying the work and the issue it addresses.