Guns in the Hands of Artists

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9781941758717: Guns in the Hands of Artists
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In the 1990s, the New Orleans murder rate exploded. In 1996, 350 people were killed―the highest number in the city’s history, and the highest rate in the nation. In response to this crisis, gallery owner and artist Jonathan Ferrara and artist Brian Borrello, launched a powerful project: Guns in the Hands of Artists. Over sixty artists, including painters, glass artists, sculptors, photographers, and poets, used decommissioned guns taken off the city streets via a gun buyback program to express a thought, make a statement, open a discussion, and to stimulate thinking about guns and gun violence in America.

As gun violence continues to devastate the nation on a daily basis, Guns in the Hands of Artists reemerged in 2012 as a community-based social activist art project that has since traveled to six cities across the US. Using art as a mirror for life and interweaving the works of thirty diverse artists with the voices of seventeen national thought leaders, this book is an important outgrowth of the exhibition and an extension of its efforts to employ art as a vehicle for dialogue, as a call to action, and―ultimately―as an agent of change.

Essays by: Walter Isaacson, Senator Tim Kaine, Lupe Fiasco, Richard Ford, Joe Nocera, Trymaine Lee, Lolis Eric Elie, John M. Barry, Dan Cameron, Lucia McBath, Harry Shearer, Jonathan Ferrara, Brian Borrello, Maria Cuomo Cole, Michael Waldman, E. Ethelbert Miller, Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Ferrara is an artist, gallery owner, community activist, and cultural producer. He has been a voice for the arts for twenty years and is a leader in the movement to make New Orleans an international arts destination.

Cultural activism―using art to affect social change―is Ferrara’s trademark. He is the founder ARTDOCS, a medical program for artists without health insurance, as well as the Annual No Dead Artists International Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Art, and the Guns in The Hands of Artists Foundation, Ferrara continues to challenge his audience and himself in search of the best contemporary art and ideas wherever that may take him around the world. He has produced cultural exchange exhibitions with Cuba, Hungary, Germany, and Jordan as well as across the US.

He lives in New Orleans with his wife, artist Sidonie Villere, son Anson, and daughter Quinn.

Jonathan Ferrara Gallery exhibits works of art from around the world and has been featured in The New York Times, Time, NPR, The Associated Press, Art in America, ARTnews, The Art Newspaper, MSNBC, ABC’s Good Morning America, and in numerous other national and international media. The gallery regularly exhibits during Art Basel Miami Beach, Armory Week in New York, Art Basel in Switzerland, and in the Houston, San Francisco, and Seattle art fairs.

Review:

"In the 1990s, when the streets of New Orleans were plagued with murders, the artist and gallery owner Jonathan Ferrara opened an exhibition using reclaimed guns in order to bring the conversation around gun violence into the world of art. Two decades later, with gun violence still a national problem, Ferrara revisited the project. The product became a new exhibition called Guns In the Hands of Artists, which is now accompanied by a book of the same name, published by Inkshares, with contributions from public figures and writers including writer Richard Ford, rapper Lupe Fiasco, Senator Tim Kaine, and former congresswoman Gabby Giffords." ―Publishers Weekly

"Author/gallery owner Jonathan Ferrara's darkly handsome, 215-page volume Guns in the Hands of Artists includes dramatic photos of artworks made from firearms, plus a series of essays by everyone from Walter Isaacson to Mayor Mitch Landrieu to Harry Shearer. But unlike most art catalogs, Guns in the Hands of Artists is a good read.” ―Doug MacCash, The Times Picayune

"Jonathan Ferrara is a modern art gallery owner driven by an old-fashioned idea: He wants the pieces he has gathered at his gallery in New Orleans to hold a mirror up to society and reflect an issue that has become a touchy one for Americans. He wants Americans to see our relationship with guns for what it is." ―Jen Christensen, CNN

"New Orleans gallery owner and exhibitor Jonathan Ferrara organized a clever art exhibit in 2014: Take decommissioned guns, give them to artists to remake into art and use the whole thing to kick-start a discussion about gun violence in America. The exhibit has now been turned into a book, Guns in the Hands of Artists, with written contributions from a variety of people, including Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, former congresswoman Gabby Giffords and rapper Lupe Fiasco." ―Amanda Marcotte, Salon.com

"Gun violence has been ever-present throughout my time in public service, but my past experiences have taught me that no matter how tough our problems may be, they pale in comparison to the combined will of the American people who are determined to make our communities safer. I look forward to the day when we, as elected officials and as Americans, live up to our responsibilities and put an end to this crisis." ―From 2016 Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee Tim Kaine's Guns in the Hands of Artists book excerpt, featured on Time.com

"The book shines a light on a massive problem in our country, turning weapons of violence into a means of transmitting a powerful message, and, hopefully, the inspiration to start finding real solutions." ―Artnet News

"In his new book, Ferrara brings a hauntingly beautiful new perspective to the national conversation about gun violence in America and how we understand it. This smart collection of brilliant artists and voices reimagines the devastating violence that cuts through the fabric of society, while paying homage to the hope that drives those of us in this movement every day. Guns in the Hands of Artists is required reading for anyone looking to shift the American gun violence discussion from one rooted in debate, to one striving for solutions." ―Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

"This important work of art and essays will help you think about guns in a more profound way." ―Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and former chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of Time magazine

"Art is ultimately about a process of transformation, and Guns in the Hands of Artists makes that case through the passion and conviction of its artists. Beginning with the pile-up of homicides on the mean streets of New Orleans, this book and the exhibition it documents end up making a potent argument for handing artists the opportunity to turn the instruments of our pain and bewilderment into objects of awareness and hope. These are not prescriptions for future laws, but rather blueprints for wielding the power of the artistic imagination to fully confront our waking nightmares." ―Dan Cameron, former senior curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, founder of Prospect New Orleans, and curator for the thirteenth Bienal de Cuenca, Ecuador, 2016

"Transcends politics reminding us of the devastating human cost of gun violence and inspiring us to take take action." ―Maria Cuomo Cole, award-winning filmmaker who works on gun violence, homelessness, and sexual violence issues, and longtime chair of HELP USA

"Guns in the Hands of Artists is by far one of the most critical works of today. As a gun violence prevention lobbyist and activist these works of art and the corresponding essays paint the truest narrative of America's grievous love affair with guns." ―Lucia McBath (mother of Jordan Davis), national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and faith community outreach organizer at Everytown for Gun Safety

"Solving the problem of gun violence will take not just political will, but real creativity. Putting Guns in the Hands of Artists in the hands of politicians would be a great start." ―Lolis Elie, award-winning writer, journalist, and documentary filmmaker

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