New UICA exhibit focuses on guns in America

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There is a raging battle in America about the issue of gun control, gun violence and what many say is the easy accessibility of guns.

Both sides of the debate maintain a passionate stance.

Regardless of one’s personal view, there is an exhibit called “Unloaded” opening Thursday at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids that uses art to put people face to face with their own perceptions of guns in our society.

It took a couple of years for a Pittsburgh artist to put the traveling exhibit together, including the works of many others, and now it’s made its way to West Michigan.

“It’s really easy for people to disagree and to feel hard and fast in their disagreement, but if a work of art doesn’t necessarily agree with one person it can open up an avenue for discussion, that might not be possible,” said Heather Duffy with the UICA.

Duffy said “Unloaded” isn’t designed to make a grand statement from any of the artists but rather should raise questions about what guns mean to you and how they may be perceived by others through a number of perspectives.

“It’s a very personal show about a very delicate topic and so I hope very much people will have authentic experiences — and will feel like the art work can meet them where they are, can meet the art work where it is,” she said. “And that they’ll be able to think through experiences that they’ve had or people that are close to them have had that involve guns in some way, whether those are positive or negative experiences.”

The time at which the exhibit reaches Grand Rapids also lends to the experience. With it being an election year, some of the emotions that come to the surface through certain pieces may be more passionate.

“I wonder if we showed this work in 2017, how it would be different for people that are sort of not on the edge of their seat anymore looking for these hot-button issues, and they’re looking to press and they’re looking for reactionary responses,” Duffy said.

“I don’t think the show is calling for a reactionary response,” she added. “I think it’s a call for contemplation and it’s really offering space to work towards understanding.”

The Unloaded” exhibit opens to the public Thursday at the UICA and runs through May 15, 2016.

—–Online: “Unloaded” at UICA

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