Behind the “Silenced” Series
Do You Know Where Your Guns Are? was a one-off installation created for the Contain It! exhibit at the Dunedin Fine Art Center in Florida; a storage pod filled with “Missing Gun” posters based on reports of guns stolen from private homes and vehicles—usually by family, neighbors, and friends; known to be in easily accessible locations; and used later to commit crimes. The public response was eye-opening; visitors shied away at the sight of gun images and didn’t enter. Others were immediately defensive, their hackles raised as they prepared for a fight. Most were shocked at how many news reports were gathered in the few months leading up to the exhibition. That was 2013.
I moved on for a time, but the headlines kept coming. “Community members shocked over rare murder-suicide.” “What we know and don’t from Thursday’s domestic shooting in Wilmington.” The headlines led to statistical research, to understand the issue at the macro and micro levels. The Centers DCP reports one set of statistics and groups promoting or opposing gun control measures offer different sets, but few offer a comprehensive look beyond numbers. The non-profit Gun Violence Archive attempts to fill this void, collecting news and police reports in real time for free online public access. While the spreadsheets, charts, and maps are useful, it is the incident reports that provide the most detail with locations, participants, notes, and source links.
For the “Silenced: Records Series,” I use the GVA information to create temporal data portraits in a series of mixed-media drawings: Silenced: Daily Records 2017;Silenced: Monthly Records 2018; and currently in progress, Silenced: Yearly Records, 2014-2018.
In 2019 I returned to the headlines, focusing on how news media and government agencies are telling the stories of gun-related domestic violence incidents. Silenced: Domestic Report (this is an isolated incident with no threat to the public)is a new mixed-media series that pairs the data of domestic gun violence incidents with a critical eye toward the images and language used in such reports. Much of the language is either clinical, naïve and/or irresponsible, and reinforces social, racial, and economic inequalities even though domestic violence crosses all demographics. How are these reports helping or hindering our understanding of the statistics, such as: more than two-thirds of intimate partner and family murder victims are committed with guns, and domestic violence assaults involving a gun are twelve times more likely to result in death.
The “Silenced”series is evolving to utilize digital as well as historical print formats in the spirit of a “cultural jamming” artistic practice.