September 7 – October 14
Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture
An opening reception will be held on Thursday, September 7 from 5 to 7 p.m., and the gallery will open for its regular viewing hours on Friday, September 8.
David Hess started assembling life-size sculptures of assault rifles from what he calls “rescued” objects — ranging from an old black sneaker and vintage turquoise sewing machine, to a raggedy crutch and pink Barbie bike frame — decades ago, increasing his pace of production following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012. While he has been showing some of the works since 2015, Gun Show at UMBC is the first presentation of all 111 sculptures. Of these, the CADVC will display 99, and the artist will make 12 available as a “study set” during special hands-on, discussion-based programs. Hess aims for this project to foster dialogue about one of the most volatile issues of our time – guns, who should or should not own them, whether or not to legislate them, ramifications of their use or misuse, and how issues of race, class, gender identity, and age impact every aspect of these questions.
Artist David Hess harvests contrasting forms and materials to create a collision between the man-made and natural worlds. Hess refers to these “rescued objects” as artifacts, suggesting that these materials are loaded with history and cultural narrative – making them not only worthy of salvage, but of preservation. At Dartmouth College, Hess studied with realist wood sculptor Fumio Yoshimura, whose precision and humor had a profound impact. Concentrated studies at Dartmouth in Pre Med, Engineering, Japanese Design and Filmmaking continue to inform his current studio practice. From these he draws upon methods of observation, object making and constructing narrative in his creation of commissioned furniture, sculpture, architectural elements and public art projects.
Hess’s work has been exhibited at Goya Contemporary in Baltimore, Maryland and the John Elder Gallery, New York. His work can be found in the numerous private and public collections including the American Visionary Art Museum, Thurgood Marshall Airport (Baltimore Washington International Airport), Johns Hopkins Hospital, Sinai Hospital, Montgomery College, Kaiser-Permanente and the Emerson Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition, he has completed over twenty public art commissions in and around Baltimore, Rockville, Germantowne, Maryland and Washington D.C.
Kathy O’Dell, the curator of Gun Show, teaches and writes on modern and contemporary art, with a focus on performance and global art. The author of Contract with the Skin: Masochism, Performance Art, and the 1970s (University of Minnesota Press, 1998), she has published numerous articles and reviews in Art in America, Artforum, Performance Research, TDR: The Drama Review, Women & Performance, and other journals. Currently, she is writing a book titled The Dot: A Small History of a Big Point and is co-writing, with Duke University Professor Kristine Stiles, a survey text titled World Art Since 1933. Dr. O’Dell is Associate Professor of Visual Arts (Art History & Museum Studies) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), as well as Special Assistant to the Dean for Education & Arts Partnerships. She serves on the Board of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and the Maryland State Commission on Public Art.
Admission to the exhibition is free.
The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located in the Fine Arts Building. For more information call 410-455-3188.
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Image: David Hess, 0006-0014-006, 2014. Photo by Geoff Graham.