A New Collaborative Exhibit Spans Three Syracuse Art Galleries to Address Gun Violence

The Pandemic was top-of-mind for most of 2020 but 2020 was also a devastating year for gun violence.  And once again, communities of color bore a disproportionate burden of the violence.  At the same time, gun sales surged in 2020. An estimated 20 million guns were sold, 6.1 million more than in 2019.

The need to address gun violence is more urgent than ever and in response, artists from across the United States have used their artistic voices to address issues related to our culture of gun violence particularly how it affects women, children and marginalized peoples.

Deadlocked and Loaded: Disarming America is a new exhibit that spans three galleries in Syracuse, New York.  The artwork from the viewpoints of 36 self-identified female artists is a visual testimony combining personal experiences, memories, and beliefs.  The 52 works uniquely blend the beauty of fine art with the disturbing and alarming in your face realities of gun violence.

The exhibit, curated by Karen M. Gutfreund, is hosted by ArtRage Gallery, Community Folk Art Center, (CFAC) and Point of Contact Gallery. Gutfreund said, “Thoughts and prayers is a phrase we hear repeatedly after every act of gun violence.  These words are now hollow and meaningless and are no substitute for action.  I created this exhibition because the subject matter is timely. The issues we continue to face in the United States, racism, police brutality, and white supremacy, make campaigns for effective gun violence prevention laws and interventions to stop gun violence all the more urgent.  It is my goal to use art as activism, to stimulate dialog, raise consciousness and encourage social change.

 Black Icons – Justyne Fischer (2018)

While the subject matter is serious the exhibits are visually arresting and beautiful.  The collection includes installations, sculpture, textiles, paintings and drawings including 3 from an eight-year-old who illustrates how it feels to participate in active shooter training at school.  An installation at ArtRage features 28 pairs porcelain baby booties suspended from the ceiling.  The booties, at a glance, are lovely—but upon closer inspection, they are far from intact.  They are broken and hanging by black ribbon from the ceiling, each pair of shattered porcelain baby shoes represents a child who, this week, will be killed by a gun.

Curator Karen Gutfreund noted that this is the first collaborative exhibit among these 3 Syracuse based galleries.  Each gallery has a distinct mission and programming but Deadlocked and Loaded: Disarming America unites them in their desire to create a space where the issue of gun violence can lead to constructive conversation, change and eventually, healing. “We believe that the artist’s voice can help to foster important dialogues and inspire others to add their voice,” said Rose Viviano, Executive Director of ArtRage.  Dr. Tanisha M. Jackson, Executive Director of CFAC, said, “We need the conversations and the actions that follow to build bridges to a more peaceable union that has the foundation of justice for all.” Director of Point of Contact Gallery, Sara Felice said, “When we authentically come together, we are empowered to create community and facilitate positive change.”

Gigi Salij, Venice Beach, CA – Ahmaud Arbery 25 and Unarmed and Trayvon Martin 17 and Unarmed

The exhibit Deadlocked and Loaded is on view from February 11 to April 18, 2021.  In alignment with COVID 19 health and safety guidelines, each gallery has protocols in place for onsite public viewing.  The exhibit is available for a virtual viewing at Deadlocked and Loaded

The exhibit catalog is available on Amazon.  To learn more about each gallery and the exhibit, visit their websites ArtRage, Point of Contact Gallery, and Community Folk Art Center

Participating Artists: Salma Arastu, Jenny Balisle, Holly Ballard Martz, Alice Beasley, Lorraine Bonner, Mona Cliff, Beth Costello, Cat Del Buono, Sally Edelstein, Christine Ferrouge, Karen Fiorito, Justyne Fischer, Pamela Flynn, Nette Forné Thomas, Lisa Freeman, Christine Ilewski, Marlowe Jones, Leslie Kerby, Jennifer Kim Sohn, Kate Kretz, Nina Kuo, Beth Lakamp, Ann J. Lewis, Sarah Maple, Chandrika Marla, Penny Mateer, Kelly Mathews, Kristine Mays, JoAnne McFarland, Carol-Anne McFarlane, Brandi Merolla, Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, Nancy Ohanian, Melanie Olivia, Priscilla Otani, Sibylle Peretti, Amy Pleasant, Michele Pred, Lucky Rapp, Jenny Reinhardt, Sinan Revell, Karen J. Revis, Beverly Rippel, Kadie Salfi, Gigi Salij, Sarah Stolar Stolar, Patricia Turner, and Margi Weir.

The Curator: Karen M. Gutfreund is an independent curator and artist. Actively promoting the work of activist and feminist artists with national touring exhibitions, she has produced over thirty-five to date, managing all aspects from curation, artist and project management, as well as the installation. Gutfreund has worked in the Painting & Sculpture Department at MoMA, the Andre Emmerick Gallery, The Knoll Group, the John Berggruen Gallery, and is an art consultant to corporations and individuals. Gutfreund served as the National Exhibitions Director for the Women’s Caucus for Art. In addition, Gutfreund is a member of ArtTable, the Northern California Representative for The Feminist Art Project (TFAP), and curator for UniteWomen.org. She is currently writing a book on DIY Exhibitions. karengutfreund.com, @karengutfreundart

ArtRage: The ArtRage mission is to exhibit progressive art that inspires resistance and promotes social awareness; supports social justice, challenges preconceptions and encourages cultural change.  Our goal is to provide ArtRage visitors with an experience that encourages the breakdown of boundaries so that people can see themselves in the work and then in one another. And that, we believe, is the seed of a movement for cultural and social change.

From its start, ArtRage has continuously partnered with community organizations in both exhibitions and exhibition–related- programming. The goal is always to bring attention to the meaningful work of local activists and organizations. To that end, all of our exhibitions are paired with exhibition-related programs such as films, lectures, workshops or theatrical productions that help to expand the dialogue created by each exhibition. artragegallery.org, @artragegallery

Community Folk Art Center: Community Folk Art Center, Incorporated (CFAC) was founded in 1972 by the late Herbert T. Williams, a professor in the African American Studies Department, in collaboration with other Syracuse University faculty and students, as well as local artists and Syracuse city residents. The primary motivation and objective for the establishment of CFAC was to provide a high-quality showcase for African Diasporan artists, creating a setting for dialogue and interaction among emerging, mid-career and professional artists, in Central New York. In addition to Williams, CFAC founders include Shirley Harrison, Jack White, George Campbell Jr., Mary Schmidt Campbell, David MacDonald, and Basheer Alim.

CFAC values our role as a vibrant cultural and artistic hub committed to the promotion and development of artists of the African Diaspora. CFAC’s mission is to exalt cultural and artistic pluralism by collecting, exhibiting, teaching and interpreting the visual and expressive arts. Public programming includes exhibitions, film screenings, gallery talks, workshops and courses in studio and performing arts. A proud unit of the African American Studies Department at Syracuse University, CFAC is a beacon of artistry, creativity and cultural expression engaging the Syracuse community, the region and the world. CommunityFolkArtCenter.org, @communityfolkartcenter

Point of Contact Gallery: Punto de Contacto/Point of Contact, Inc., a New York-based arts organization in residence at Syracuse University, creates opportunities for the exploration of diversity and the exchange of ideas through the verbal and visual arts. Working with the Central New York communities, as well as state-wide and international institutions and individuals, Point of Contact is a collaborative, cross-disciplinary forum where artists, writers, scholars and students actively engage in the production of publications, art exhibitions and events to enrich the cultural mix of our society. Our organization aims to form inspired communities; to innovate through artistic concepts that may resonate locally and globally; to work expansively where intellectual and geographic boundaries are concerned, and to share the experience.

Point of Contact, Inc. is a (501c3) tax-exempt organization. The organization’s headquarters are housed at Syracuse University’s Warehouse Building in downtown Syracuse. Point of Contact is supported by grants from Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Coalition of Museum & Art Centers at Syracuse University (CMAC), and the New York State Council on the Arts. Point of Contact is managed by the Office of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. puntopoint.org, @pointofcontactgallery