Monday, January 11, 2016
A City Without Guns. Jennifer Nagle Meyers. 2014.
This spring Suzanne Slavick, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University, curated an exhibition at SPACE with a singular theme, guns. On view through April 26th, UNLOADED features 19 artists at a variety of career trajectories from international and national locales both east and west and points between, including Pittsburgh based artists. The topic is approached with a mixture of methods and media encompassing printmaking, painting, sculpture, video and film. Collectively, the work on view either directly illustrates our culture’s obsession with guns via photography, reflects and critiques the pervasiveness of guns and their consequences by reconfiguring common imagery and ideas from the media, or offers personal accounts and reflections of the experience of guns and gun violence.
In Jennifer Nagle Meyers’ nuanced piece, A City Without Guns (2014 – ongoing), the artist collected branches and sticks naturally shaped like guns (perhaps recalling Claes Oldenburg’s legendary Ray Gun collection) and mounted them in an oval arrangement on the wall. The piece establishes the dialogue between nature and culture, calling to mind hunter/gatherer societies. Obviously, when we think of guns, we associate them with culture and the human-made, so when we see Meyers’ ‘natural guns’ they are no longer instruments of destruction. Instead, they become more about environment as we look at the shape, color and the type of wood and its innate aesthetic qualities. Like mimesis in reverse, Meyers transformed these sticks and branches into abstracted things of beauty while also imitating manufactured objects, a parallel to how gun culture fetishizes guns.