BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Sculpture Space is a unique organization responsible for bringing some of the most creative and artistic minds to the forefront of society. Those lucky enough to be selected as an Artist-In-Residence are given an opportunity to create their work, share it with the public and in some cases, have their work displayed in different locations across the country. Sculptures, and art in general, comparable to early man’s parietal art, speak a unique and colorful language all people can identify with.
Art is part of our collective humanity and Resident Artist Matthew Mosher, through his art, is in lockstep with man’s prehistoric activities to communicate creatively. Art, like music, is a powerful medium penetrating hearts and minds, and Mosher is using it to address gun violence in America with his new installation at Sculpture Space.
Mosher says his vision for the two pieces he’s constructing is to address gun violence in America and to honor the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. “The first one that I’m making for the Pulse Memorial Show is a plaster cast 9mm cartridge for each person who was killed in 2016 by gun violence and homicides. And, it’s a total of 15,070 bullets.”
Mosher says he chose to honor the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting because it hit close to home. “I had recently moved to Orlando and shortly after I moved there the Pulse shooting happened and that got me thinking about gun violence. It’s a very interesting and unique problem to the United States compared to Canada, the U.K., Germany, France…the rate of gun violence in the United States is so high compared to other developed nations and the rate of gun ownership is so much higher than these other countries, but we also have very unique freedoms in the United States that these other countries don’t have. We have the Second Amendment and that’s very important.”
The topic of gun violence and the Second Amendment is a sensitive one dividing a nation of people on opposite ends of the issue. Mosher says his aim is to avoid the basic arguments typically centered on the right to bear arms. “You’re either really pro-gun or anti-gun so I wanted to make some work that would elicit dialogue about gun violence and gun ownership in the country without being really aggressive or in your face about it.”
To facilitate the dialogue intended for his pieces the Resident Artist and Professor of Digital Media at the University of Central Florida in Orlando says he was inspired by Tibetan Sand mandala, radial symmetrical and meditative forms unique to Buddhism to bring his work to life. “And, they’re cast in plaster, it’s like a white on white, white material on a white wall, so it’s almost calming in a sense. My hope is that it puts the issue more into the public eye to get people to talk about it in a level headed way instead of, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ argument.”
Mosher adds, “It affects so many different things. There’s strange statistics on gun violence…two correlated things are, where there’s higher rates of gun ownership, there’s high rates of murders of women because domestic violence is a primary outlet for gun violence. If you own a gun you are more likely to commit suicide than if you don’t.” Even so, Mosher strongly supports the Second Amendment. “It’s very tricky but I do because if you look at the wording of the Second Amendment it’s the right to bear arms as part of an organized militia, which is designed into the Constitution to help people resist the government ultimately, and I think that’s the important part of the Second Amendment, is that it provides a way for citizens to resist a government that they oppose and that’s important. That’s part of what America is and I don’t think we can lose that.” He says he is open to a stricter interpretation of the Second Amendment that only allows gun ownership for militia members. “There’s nothing about protecting your right to hunt in the Second Amendment.”
Gun violence in America can arguably be classified as an epidemic and the current trajectory we’re on as a nation seems to be creating a greater gap among those on opposite ends of the gun violence and gun ownership debate. Nevertheless, something significant must change for the situation to improve, and Mosher’s pieces may just be the artistic tools needed to facilitate dialogues aimed at reducing gun violence in America. In addition to the plaster casts of 9mm gun cartridges, Mosher’s other installation is a map of the U.S. showing the six states where mass murders have taken place recently. The six states—Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Kansas and Mississippi—are outlined with white plaster 9mm guns.
There are two other Resident Artists at Sculpture Space also undertaking significant work to improve humanity. Brooklyn resident Vanessa Albury traveled all the way to the Arctic to take photos of glaciers to highlight climate change. Her piece titled, Arctic Future Relics is a stark reminder of the sacredness of the Arctic glaciers and its susceptibility. Albury developed her photos in a dark room on a sailboat in the Arctic. “The pictures are not just a window into the world but what holds the image is the vulnerability aspect involved. The pictures mirror the vulnerability of the glaciers. They represent relics of the future…they’ll be gone one day.”
Balam Bartolome of Mexico City is the other Resident Artist with an installation he calls, Ritual Objects. He says his aim is to honor the magic of the universe by connecting culture and art using ritualistic objects. “I’m trying to reconnect magic and culture through art. Art is an act of love and that’s magic, I think.”
The artists and their installations can be found at Sculpture Space.