Film to explore gun violence through art in Southampton exhibit

  • Doris Madsen of Easthampton will be screening her first film, “Wear Orange: Art Looks at Gun Violence,” at the First Congregational Church of Southampton on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Doris Madsen of Easthampton will be screening her first film, “Wear Orange: Art Looks at Gun Violence”, at the First Congregational Church of Southampton on Wednesday. Photographed on Monday, March 7, 2022, in Southampton. The film draws from “Wear Orange: An Art Exhibit” a virtual art show she curated last year and presented with the Massachusetts chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Doris Madsen of Easthampton will be screening her first film, “Wear Orange: Art Looks at Gun Violence”, at the First Congregational Church of Southampton on Wednesday. Photographed on Monday, March 7, 2022, in Southampton. The film draws from “Wear Orange: An Art Exhibit” a virtual art show she curated last year and presented with the Massachusetts chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 3/7/2022 7:42:15 PM
Modified: 3/7/2022 7:41:41 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — Doris Madsen is continuing the conversation on gun violence with an in-person screening of her first film on Wednesday, March 9.

The 25-minute movie, “Wear Orange: Art Looks at Gun Violence,” is a free virtual art exhibit featuring the work of more than 50 artists from western Massachusetts and other parts of the country. The screening will take place at 6:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Southampton, at 212 College Highway. 

Madsen, of Easthampton, is the artistic director and curator of the exhibit. She collaborated with her son’s girlfriend Hilary Dennis as she embarked on her first foray into film, and completed the movie in early June with the Massachusetts chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Madsen, a printmaker and retired librarian, acknowledged that her resources and skills were limited, having never before made a movie.

“But I wanted people to see this (exhibit) in a way other than a computer screen and clicking around,” she said. “Virtual exhibits are great, but I find that after click, click, click, people get tired and aren’t completely immersed … so I ended up making it into a movie with the art.” 

The exhibit includes artwork from survivors of gun violence, Madsen said. 

A survivor is defined as anyone who has personally experienced gun violence, including those who have witnessed an act of gun violence, been threatened or wounded with a gun,or had a loved one wounded or killed, she said. 

Madsen put out a conventional call to artists as well as via Instagram. She also reached out to survivors as she felt their voices were vital. 

“Art is very powerful. Every piece in the show expresses gun violence in our country and I want people to feel the power of that expression … take action: vote, show up, write a letter … take action,” she said. 

Madsen also features her work in the film. In it, she describes using “historic imagery and maps from America’s colonial past to portray systemic racism and white supremacy.” 

The “orange” theme of the virtual exhibit has been the defining color of the gun violence prevention movement nationwide. It’s tied to the color that friends of the late Hadiya Pendleton wore in her honor. Pendleton, a 15-year-old Black girl and honor student from Chicago, was shot and killed in a city park in January 2013. 

The beginning of the film includes a content warning as it does contain images and language of guns and gun violence that can be disturbing. One benefit of being able to watch the film in person is the opportunity to experience it as a group.

“It’s powerful and I think it’s hard to watch alone. Having this live and in person is nice and helpful … you can take a few deep breaths and collectively think about it,” Madsen said. 

Following the screening, attendees will also have a chance to discuss what they just saw. 

Among those speaking at the event is Tia Christiansen, a survivor of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting.

Christiansen, a native of Northampton who moved back to the area during the pandemic, was one room over from where an assailant opened fire on concert-goers at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killing more than 60 people and wounding more than 400. Hundreds more were injured in the resulting panic. 

Since that event, Christiansen says she has tried to understand what it’s like to live with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

She has joined movements to bring forward legislation that she describes as common-sense gun violence prevention solutions that will continue to allow people to purchase and own their guns in keeping with local, state and federal laws. Among the solutions she mentioned are universal background checks and the banning of bump stocks, which replace a rifle’s standard stock and grip and allow for rapid fire akin to a fully automatic weapon. 

“I was looking for some way to channel my outrage, my heartache and my frustration into positive action for change,” she said.

She has become a survivor fellow and survivor fellow mentor with Everytown for Gun Safety and a member of the western Massachusetts chapter of the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, where she connected with Madsen. 

“By using art and unlocking my own creative energies, I’ve created healing for myself,” Christiansen said. “(This exhibit), it’s powerful. It creates conversation and connection and offers a platform for artists from all over to express themselves, and thereby creating an opportunity for others to experience.”

Though the “Wear Orange” film screening is free, organizers recommend reserving a seat at churchoffice@shcong.org.


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