FAIRFIELD, CT - The Unload Foundation Inc., in partnership with the Fairfield University Art Museum and the Guns in the Hands of Artists Foundation, announces the opening of the exhibition #UNLOAD: Guns in the Hands of Artists, on view at the Fairfield University Art Museum's Walsh Gallery from June 1 - October 13, 2018.
This exhibit is coming to Fairfield University as part of the Unload Foundation Inc.’s Connecticut-based initiative, #UNLOAD, founded by two Connecticut women, Mary Himes and Helen Klisser During, that uses the arts to create social change. This traveling exhibition features pieces created using decommissioned guns taken off the streets of New Orleans via a gun buyback program and distributed to internationally-known artists. Painters, sculptors, photographers, poets, and other artists used the decommissioned firearms to create works of art that address the complex issue of guns and gun violence. The exhibit has traveled from New Orleans to Aspen, St. Louis, Miami (for Miami Art Basel), Washington D.C., and Minneapolis.
The #UNLOAD initiative uses arts events including fine art and photography exhibits, a theater production, a documentary film series, and dance and spoken word performances to trigger inclusive conversations amongst gun owners and gun safety advocates, Republicans, Democrats and independents to help drive consensus on the divisive issue of gun violence.
Mary Himes, wife of U.S. Rep. Jim, Himes (D-4), believes strongly in the value of engagement. “We’re frustrated with the lack of action on the federal level to address the epidemic of gun violence, so we thought of taking a different approach,” Himes said. “I’m a gun safety advocate and I believe we need to engage with gun owners to find solutions. It’s about having robust conversations, listening to the other side, and finding consensus about the role of guns in our society.” Co-Founder Helen Klisser During, a global art advisor, curator, and Member of the Connecticut Arts Council, added, “#UNLOAD uses the arts as a springboard for engagement and insight, and as a neutral platform for all parties and points of view to participate in open conversation and hopefully move the dial towards a safer world."
The effort is nonpartisan, and has connected with several other organizations that share the commitment to change, including Fairfield University, Guns in the Hands of Artists Foundation, ArtSpace, Fairfield University Art Museum, Quick Center for the Arts, Grace Farms, Hartford and Westport Police Departments, Samuel Owen Gallery, Westport Library, Real Art Ways Hartford, Neighborhood Studios, St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, and Westport Country Playhouse.
The exhibit opening will take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday May 31st, beginning with a panel discussion on “Art Making for Social Change” with exhibit curator Jonathan Ferrara and other exhibiting artists, moderated by Helen Klisser During.
The discussion will be followed by an opening reception at 6 p.m. in the Walsh Gallery at the Quick Center for the Arts. Both the exhibition and reception are free and open to the public, but registration for the panel is encouraged. Those interested may register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/art-making-for-social-change-tickets-44683537664
#UNLOAD is an arts-based initiative that seeks to drive consensus around one of the most divisive issues in our nation today- gun violence. We take a new approach, using the arts to jump-start the dialogue. As Simon Schama said in The Power of Art, “The power of the greatest art is the power to shake us into revelation and rip us from our default mode of seeing. After an encounter with that force, we don’t look at a face, a color, a sky, a body, in quite the same way again. We get fitted with new sight: in-sight”.