Visual

Regeneration

From weapons to art

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Tracy Powell’s “The Peacemaker” is not a typical work of art.

For example, the gun the simplistic figure beseechingly holds in his sturdy stone hands—bending it and making it inoperable—wasn’t originally created by the popular Pacific Northwest sculptor. Instead, it was the first firearm donated to the Anacortes Regeneration Project, which aims to turn decommissioned guns and other weapons into pieces of art as a way to jumpstart conversations about gun control.

“One of the important roles of public art is to be a catalyst for honest dialogue,” organizers say. “It is our hope that as weapons are regenerated into art we can also regenerate conversation away from one rooted in confrontation to one that strives for solutions.

“This project offers people who have guns that they do not want to keep an opportunity to permanently take the weapons out of circulation; becoming a part of a larger community response.”

At a public event that took place in Anacortes Sat., Sept. 15 at Seafarers Memorial Park, citizens brought their offerings to the artists, who rendered the weapons inoperable by heating them in a forge or zapping them with a welding torch.

The first gun previously donated to the project was a weapon a woman had inherited when her mother died. She’d never used it. In the preliminary offering, Powell replaced a stone gun from one of his original sculptures with the “real” one, and it instantly transformed the work into a conversation piece.

Members of Safe and Sane Skagit were also in attendance, and posted a picture on their Facebook page of an NRA member holding one of the guns. He’d come because he knows how to dismantle them, and his best friend is a woman from his church who is also a gun safety advocate.

“He decided to help, even though he does not agree with all that she (and we) stand for,” wrote a member of the grassroots organization comprised of community members who have a concern about gun violence in this country and are searching for ways to impact the legislative and cultural processes in order to bring more safety and sanity to firearm use and availability. “I was very moved by him and believe he is the answer—showing understanding and support, even though not always in agreement.”

From 10am-2pm Sat., Sept. 22 at the Gentry House, a second community event will take place. This will be an opportunity to quietly turn your gun over to blacksmiths and welders, where it will begin the regeneration process in a less-public manner.

From there, Powell and other celebrated artists such as Paul Thorne, Kathleen Faulkner, Lanny Bergner, and Natalie Niblack will use the components as the foundation for sculptures or wall-hanging art, shaped by the volume and nature of the donated guns and weapons. The completed work will be on display in 2019 at a public location (or locations) in Anacortes, and there will be a dedication celebration honoring first responders and victims of gun violence when the work is installed.

Besides physical donations, supporters can make tax-deductible financial donations to support the project, add their names to a community support list and share information on social media.

Another thing they can do is open their minds to dialogue surrounding the controversial topic of gun control. It’s not just about turning guns into art, after all.

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