Art exhibit focused on the ravages of gun violence opens in June

  • A sculpture by Easthampton artist Michael Poole, which will be featured in the virtual exhibit focused on gun violence awareness and prevention. The six-foot diameter sculpture is made of 14,718 washers, each of which represents a victim of gun violence in the U.S. during 2018. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/26/2021 12:29:15 PM

EASTHAMPTON — With yet another spate of mass shootings in the past week, leaving 11 people dead and nearly 70 wounded between May 21-23 alone, and an additional incident May 26 in California with nine fatalities, the country once again is confronting an epidemic of gun violence.

Now, the state chapter of a national activist group, numerous artists, and Easthampton City Arts (ECA) have teamed up to produce an online art exhibit that aims to bring increased awareness to the problem.

“Wear Orange: an Art Exhibit,” which opens June 1 on the ECA website (easthamptoncityarts.com), will feature work from over 50 artists on the theme of gun violence, including from artists who themselves are victims of such violence or have witnessed it.

Selected works from the online show will also be displayed in the windows of 40 Cottage St. in Eastahmpton in June, while The Ethnic Study, at 222 Worthington St. in Springfield, will host a slide show of the exhibit on June 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

These exhibits are all part of what’s called the Wear Orange Summer Jam, a program developed by Easthampton artist Doris Madsen and the Massachusetts Chapter of Moms Demand Action, a national grassroots movement working for stronger gun laws and more responsible gun ownership.

“We want to show that there’s hope, and art is one way that you can keep hope alive,” Madsen said in a Gazette interview earlier this year. “Violence is a public health epidemic…. Even for artists who aren’t personally involved with gun violence or survivors, it’s an issue we all own.”

The “orange” theme of the exhibit is tied to the color that friends of the late Hadiya Pendleton wore in her honor after Pendleton, a 15-year-old Black girl and honor student from Chicago, was shot and killed in a city park in January 2013 — just one week after she had performed during celebratory events that preceded U.S. President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.

Building on the color orange theme, the tower of Easthampton’s old Town Hall at 43 Main St., as well as Holyoke City Hall, will be lit orange while the exhibit is in place, according to organizers.

Support for the exhibit has come from the Easthampton Cultural Council, Lena Park Community Development Corp., and Easthampton City Arts.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.


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