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Monday, November 28, 2016

Art Book Is Explosive: Guns In The Hands Of Artists


Books have the power to open our hearts, minds, and souls to new ideas, to explore fantasies, and to entertain what could be.  They also can clue us in on history and the facts of life.  Some books combine all of that and have the potential to change how we think, and feel, and move us to action.  One such book is Guns in the Hands of Artists.

Jonathan Ferrara, New Orleans art gallery owner, was determined to use art to stir a new dialogue on the issue of gun violence.  Over two decades ago he initiated an amazing exhibit of the work of dozens of artists and their abilities to turn guns into art.  His goal:  to bring people to the conclusion that we need common sense changes in how we view and treat the proliferation of guns.  He doesn’t expect nor seek extreme things like repealing the Second Amendment.  But safety protections regarding background checks, training, and mandatory safety locks would be a way to improve on things.

Now he has a book out that captures what he has sought to do with the exhibition and added powerful essays from a dozen and a half noted contributors.  People like U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford, Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and Lupe Fiasco a Grammy Award-winning rapper penned provocative words to accompany these stunning images.

It’s a truly terrific moment – to see art, publishing, life, and death merge.  Ferrara is a social activist artist with a real vision.  He says:

“Every image in the book is powerful in its own right, some are just more subtle than others, but the messages they convey are potent.  A few that come to mind are Marcus Kenney’s Girl with a Gun because it speaks to the issue of child safety and guns and the laws or lack thereof that exist in America.  The captivating image of a young girl dancing with a gun addresses the fact that only two states have laws that require guns to be locked up in homes that have children in them. Can’t we agree that regardless of what side we are on that we all want to protect our children? The sculptures by Mel Chin are equally powerful. He literally embeds guns into the concrete busts of two infamous killers to show how much guns are embedded into the American psyche. The work of Katrina Andry is subtle yet powerful.  Her woodcut monoprint of a disappearing African American male with gun chambers stamped across it addresses the fact that we are losing an entire generation of young black men to violence and incarceration… a fact that is widely known across America.”

One can see why we need a new way of viewing and discussing guns.  21 of the 25 deadliest shootings in the U.S. have occurred since 1980.  The U.S. has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world.  Every day in America there are 35 gun homicides, 60 gun suicides, and 200 of others who survive getting shot.  A third of the population owns a gun, but 50% of all guns are owned by 3% of the population.  Studies show the risk of an individual’s death by homicide when living in a home with a gun increases by at least 40%.

Which of the images in his book did Ferrara find to be the most powerful?  

He says: “Every image in the book is powerful in its own right, some are just more subtle than others, but the messages they convey are potent.  A few that come to mind are Marcus Kenney’s Girl with a Gun because it speaks to the issue of children and guns and the laws or lack thereof that exist in America. The captivating image of a young girl dancing with a gun speaks to the fact that only two states have laws that require guns to be locked up in homes that have children in them.  Can’t we agree that regardless of what side we are on that we all want to protect our children?  The sculptures by Mel Chin are equally powerful.  He literally embeds guns into the concrete busts of two infamous killers to show how much guns are embedded into the American psyche.  The work of Katrina Andry is subtle yet powerful.  Her woodcut monoprint of a disappearing African American male with gun chambers stamped across it speaks to the fact that we are losing an entire generation of young black men to violence and incarceration…a fact that is widely known across America.”

Ferrara launched a foundation to address gun violence, Guns in the Hands of Artists Foundation.  Proceeds from the book benefit the foundation as well as Gabby Gifford’s Americans for Responsible Solutions.

His book is just a stunning effort to make a difference.  I’m proud that the public relations firm I work for was recently retained to promote his book and mission.  It’s the land of creative effort and fresh approach that may finally catalyze some real change.

I leave you with the words of Dan Gross, the president of Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:

“In his new book, Ferrara brings a hauntingly beautiful new perspective to the national conversation about gun violence in America and how we understand it.  This smart collection of brilliant artists and voices reimagines the devastating violence that cuts through the fabric of society, while paying homage to the hope that drives those of us in this movement every day.  Guns in the Hands of Artists is required reading for anyone looking to shift the American gun violence discussion from one rooted in debate, to one striving for solutions.”



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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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