University of Maryland Baltimore County
September 7 - October 17, 2017
Workshop: October 5, 3 - 5 PM
All 112 of the guns converged at UMBC alongside Richard Chisholm's film about the Gun Show in a exhibition about the project as a whole. Below is the head curator's, Kathy O'Dell, curatorial statement located in the gallery.
"Gun Show marks the completion of an art-making journey that Baltimore artist David Hess
began in the early 1990s, shelved for several decades, and resuscitated following the 2012
tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, when a young man murdered his mother at home, killed 20
children and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and then committed suicide –
all with rifles. The use of guns for illogical, illegal reasons has continued in locales ranging from
cities like Baltimore, where there were 318 killings in 2016 (almost 80% of them shootings), and
Orlando, Florida, where 49 people were massacred at a gay nightclub on June 12, 2016, to rural
villages like Piketon, Ohio, population 2,200, where 8 family members were shot to death in a
single evening in 2016.
As these examples show, and as Hess, a white male, is well aware, issues of race, class, and
gender identity are part of the alchemy that seems to drive human beings to take up arms to hurt
or obliterate others. But challenging this way of thinking are readings of Second Amendment
rights that uphold the right to bear arms for a variety of reasons, some simple and some
complicated. Considering all these issues and reasons takes the sort of time and effort that
research universities – and their art galleries – allow and encourage.
Looking at, while walking among, the facsimile assault rifles that Hess has fabricated from what
he calls “rescued” objects, and handling some of them at a scheduled program during Gun Show,
afford viewers the opportunity to contemplate and discuss questions about guns: Who should or
should not own them? What kind of legislation is appropriate? What are safe ways to use
firearms? What are the ramifications of their use or misuse? And, of course, how do issues of
race, gender, sexuality, class, age, identity, power, and privilege impact every aspect of every
one of these questions?
Please pick up the brochure and other materials that accompany this exhibition, browse through
the books in the study area, and write your reactions to the show on the share-your- thoughts wall.
Thank you for visiting."
Kathy O’Dell, Curator