The Walsh Art Gallery in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is currently hosting the art exhibit, “#UNLOAD: Guns in the Hands of Artists.” Each piece of art in the exhibition discusses the controversial and relevant topic of gun violence using a wide variety of mediums and approaches from painting and sculpture to poetry and video.

The exhibit originated in mid-1990s New Orleans when artist Brian Borrello decided to bring the discussion of the role of guns into art form. It has been on display in New Orleans since the 1990s and, in 2014, the exhibition expanded to include new work from more modern artists. Even though it was made almost 30 years ago, the subject matter seems to feel even more relevant and moving in present day 2018.

Walking into the gallery attendees can get a sense of the intense emotion each artist felt. The resounding sounds of guns being stripped and dropped fills the room, coming from one of the pieces, Rico Gatson’s “Gun Drop Echo”. It’s a powerful and eerie soundtrack to the exhibition and adds to the reality of the exhibition’s subject matter. Although the guns in the exhibition are decommissioned and completely unusable, it feels as though they could still be dangerous because of the constant noise of guns dropping to the floor.

One of the most eye-drawing pieces in the exhibition is Marcus Kenney’s “Girl With Gun.” It is a print on aluminum of the artist’s eight-year-old daughter aiming a gun in the sky. She is wearing a plastic bag to protect herself from the rain, but it looks uncannily like a body bag. This print is the face of the art exhibit and rightfully so. It shows the frightening image of a child holding a gun clearly and directly, and needs no explanation.

One of the smallest, but most impactful, pieces is Adam Mysock’s “The Last Six, Under Six, Murdered by a Gun.” He created this to express his shock and remorse after learning six children were killed by guns in a city close to him. The art, at first, seems like a mistake. It’s just six holes in the wall, placed sporadically. However each hole represents one of the six children killed and, in each bullet hole, there is a portrait of the child it represents.

Although the art exhibition is about a controversial topic, it is handled with great care. Some of the artists are gun owners and use their medium to talk about gun violence in their perspective, recognizing the impact gun violence has and striving to change society for the better. Other artists were directly impacted by gun violence in their area and their art speaks about how gun violence affects the community. The exhibit unites people on both sides of the argument to create a memorial for victims of gun violence and a call to action to prevent more of these tragedies.

Each piece in the “#UNLOAD: Guns in the Hands of Artists” art exhibition tells a different personal story, but they are placed together in the exhibition to bring awareness about gun violence. Each approach is effective and moving in its own way. #UNLOAD is an outstanding art exhibition that speaks on one of the most pressing issues in today’s society. The exhibition will be at the art gallery until October 13.

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