New art gallery exhibit depicts effects of gun violence


Community member Ann Kowaleski observes an art quilt at the University Art Gallery's new exhibit "Guns: Loaded Conversations" on Jan. 15.

Dozens let out painful sighs and hung their heads Jan. 15 as they walked through the University Art Gallery's newest exhibit "Guns: Loaded Conversations." 

The collection features art quilts depicting the effects of American gun violence. Some quilts were splattered with red and black, others featured a rainbow of color and texture. Many quilts were covered in text, like victim counts, customary phrases and locations of mass shootings.

The exhibit's opening reception took place from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the University Art Gallery, located on the corner of Franklin Street and Preston Street. 

"Art and artists deal with life. And (gun violence) is, unfortunately, part of our lives," Gallery Director Anne Gochenour said. "It's communicating an emotion, but this is also a chance to see some fine craftsmanship here."

The collection was organized by The Studio Art Quilt Associates, an international non-profit that promotes art quilts and the artists who create them. The exhibit featured 31 American artists and two international artists.

Some pieces were designed to be a direct call for gun control. Many more, such as Ann Arbor-based artist Brooks Harris Stevens' quilt, were crafted to honor victims of gun violence.

Stevens' quilt, "When Will It Be Enough?" is made to imitate quilts from the late 1700s when the second amendment was first drafted. Gold threads hang from the quilt, leading to empty bullet casings piled on the floor, which symbolize thousands of gun-violence victims.

Ann Arbor artist, Brooks Harris Stevens hangs additional golden threads from her art quilt at the University Art Gallery on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

"Everyone will look at this quilt differently," Stevens said. "Anything that helps people develop their own individual thoughts is important."

SAQA encourages viewers with opposing opinions to be united by art and engage in productive conversation.

"People are using all different kinds of media to express themselves, and here are folks that are using fiber to make statements about the public good," Gochenour said.

The quilt collection will be on display until Feb. 8. The University Art Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.