New Exhibition —#UNLOAD: Guns in the Hands of Artists

New Exhibition —#UNLOAD: Guns in the Hands of Artists

Media Contact: Susan Cipollaro,, 203-254-4000, ext. 2726

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (April 3, 2018)— The Fairfield University Art Museum, in partnership with # UN LOAD and the Guns In The Hands of Artists Foundation , announces the opening of the exhibition, # UN LOAD : Guns in the Hands of Artists .

Each piece in the exhibition was created using decommissioned guns, taken off the streets of New Orleans via the city’s gun buyback program, and distributed to internationally-known artists. Painters, glass artists, sculptors, photographers, video artists, poets, and other artists used the decommissioned firearms to create works of art that address the complex issue of guns and gun violence. The exhibition will open on Friday, June 1 and run through October 13, 2018 in the museum’s Walsh Gallery.

The show originated in the mid-1990s in New Orleans, where a spiking murder rate led artist Brian Borrello to conceive of the first iteration of Guns in the Hands of Artists exhibition, by bringing the discussion over the role of guns and gun violence in our society into the realm of art; art as the language for dialogue and possibly change without the often partisan politics that surround the issue.

Borrello and gallery owner Jonathan Ferrara mounted this exhibition at Positive Space The Gallery in September 1996, in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans. A one-month run of the exhibition attracted national attention including a feature article in The New York Times by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Rick Bragg, and a segment on ABC News’ Good Morning America .

Since 1996 , Guns in the Hands of Artists has been re-activated in galleries, art centers, and gun trade shows in Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon, and the project has inspired similar efforts in other cities nationwide. The exhibition has traveled to The Aspen Institute in Colorado, Washington University in St. Louis, Art Basel Miami Beach, Minneapolis with Pillsbury United Communities, and Washington DC at the New America Foundation and in the Rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building.

“As an artist, activist and social entrepreneur, I asked myself, ‘What can I do to address this issue that pervades our society?’” said Ferrara. “Putting together this exhibition is my way of doing something. It’s my goal to use art and the creative process to facilitate new, frank dialogue about gun violence and guns in our society.”

The exhibition will continue to generate dialogue about guns and gun violence, initiated in New Orleans, over two decades ago. Guns in the Hands of Artists , will offer the opportunity to continue this national conversation with a focus on Connecticut’s response to the challenges posed by the threat of gun violence, and the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

The museum plans a full slate of programs in conjunction with this exhibition, beginning with an opening night reception and panel discussion moderated by Helen Klisser During, co-founder and artistic director of # UN LOAD , with several of the exhibiting artists including Margaret Evangeline, Bradley McCallum and Paul Villinski, and guest curator Jonathan Ferrara, on “ Art Making for Social Change ,” Thursday, May 31 st at 5 p.m. in the Quick Center’s Wien Experimental Theatre.

On Thursday, September 12 at 5 p.m., the museum will host a panel discussion in the Wien Theatre on “ Gun Violence in Connecticut: Realities and Paths Forward ,” aimed to facilitate public engagement on the realities of gun violence in Connecticut, and weigh the value of different approaches to reducing accessibility to guns. Confirmed panelists include Brett Peterkin, statewide coordinator, DOJ Project Longevity, and Jeremy Stein, executive director, Connecticut Against Gun Violence.

On Thursday, September 20 at 6 p.m., Barone Campus Center, Oak Room, Patrick Kelley, MD, DrPH , Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies, and founder, Forum on Global Violence Prevention at the National Academies of Science, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (to be confirmed), and Mayor Elect of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell (to be confirmed), will engage in a conversation about “ Gun Violence as a Public Health Crisis ,” moderated by Congressman Jim Himes.

The culminating event presented in conjunction with this exhibition will be on Friday, October 12 . A “ Closing Night Party ” will showcase a world premiere dance of a new work by Movement Art Is (MAI), commissioned by Fairfield University’s Quick Center for the Arts. MAI, featuring artists Jon Boogz and Lil Buck, is creating this work in response to the powerful works in the exhibition.

Additional programming is in the final stages, and will be updated at unload .

Artists featured in the Guns in the Hands of Artists exhibition include Generic Art Solutions, Neil Alexander, Luis Cruz Azaceta, John Barnes, Rob Bechet, Andrei Codrescu, R. Luke DuBois, Margaret Evangeline, Jonathan Ferrara, Rico Gatson, MK Guth, Marcus Kenney, Deborah Luster, Bradley McCallum, Adam Mysock, Ted Riederer, Paul Villinski, Club S&S (Stephen Paul Day & Sibylle Peretti), Robert C. Tannen, Nicholas Varney, William Villalongo, Sidonie Villere, and John Schuerman. Works by these artists are included in the collections of many of the country’s most prestigious museum collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, and have been featured in major biennials like The Whitney Biennial and Prospect Biennial, New Orleans.

Ferrara has released a new book for the project entitled Guns in the Hands of Artists (Ink Shares, 2016), featuring thought-provoking artwork from the show and essays authored by renowned thought leaders such as U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford, The Aspen Institute’s former CEO Walter Isaacson, Grammy Award-winning rapper Lupe Fiasco, and shooting victim and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, among many others. The book will be available for sale at the Fairfield University Bookstore.

This exhibition is a part of # UN LOAD, a Connecticut arts-based initiative that seeks to drive consensus around the divisive issue of gun violence. Visit the for more information about 2018 events taking place across the state.

The Walsh Gallery of the Fairfield University Art Museum is located in the Quick Center for the Arts on the campus of Fairfield University, 200 Barlow Road, Fairfield, Connecticut. It is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 12-4 p.m ., when classes are in session. Admission is free .  Please consult the museum website for details ( ) and summer hours.

Photo Credit:

M A R C U S   K E N N E Y

Girl with Gun , 2015
sublimated print on aluminum
61.25 x 43.24 inches
Edition of 3, with 1 AP

Fairfield University is a modern, Jesuit Catholic university rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from the U.S. and across the globe are pursuing degrees in the University’s five schools. Fairfield embraces a liberal humanistic approach to education, encouraging critical thinking, cultivating free and open inquiry, and fostering ethical and religious values. The University is located on a stunning 200-acre campus on the scenic Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.

Posted On: 05-10-2018 11:05 AM

Volume: 50 Number: 150