A contemporary art show that will push the Norfolk community to seek new avenues for saving lives from violence will be unveiled at Work | Release (759 Granby Street) in the NEON District on January 13, 2017.
Under the Gun will feature a mix of national and local artists using a wide array of materials, including digital forms, bullet casings, photography, fresh flowers, matches, and found materials from the beaches of Ocean View. Local artists will include Marissa DiGirolamo of Studio Posy, Charlotte Potter of the Chrysler Glass Studio, Kelsie McNair of With Lavender & Lace, Jeff Hewitt, and Will Houp and Sam Hundley from the Virginian-Pilot.
The show is being sponsored by an unexpected source: the Norfolk faith community, led by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Grace Episcopal Church, and Christ and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, along with Work | Release.
“Talking to colleagues and parishioners, we realized that many of us were feeling heartbroken, and frustrated by how powerless we felt,” said John Rohrs, rector of St. Andrew’s. “We wanted to do something to make a difference locally, because there are people dying right here in Hampton Roads. Gun violence affects all of us, and this moment demands more than just our prayers.”
Programming surrounding Under the Gun will be robust, including a brunch bringing together police officers, activists, and faith leaders on 1/14 from 12pm to 4pm; a suicide prevention workshop for clergy on 1/19 from 9am to 4pm; a women’s empowerment workshop on 1/21 from 10am to 1pm; and a forum on mental healthcare in Norfolk on 1/26 from 6pm to 7:30pm.
“Meredith and I have always believed that art can teach, inspire, and bring people together in unexpected ways,” said Brother Rutter, of the Rutter Family Art Foundation and owner of Work | Release. “This exhibition has the potential to accomplish all of that, and more.
Under the Gun will be curated by local community leader Jesse Scaccia, and co-curated by Hannah Serrano. Scaccia and Serrano were the lead activists behind the initial formation of the NEON District, and previously were leaders of numerous public art and vibrancy projects, including Art | Everywhere, SPIN (Street Performance in Norfolk), Norfology, the Naro neo-classic film series, and the Chalking of Ghent.
“The beauty and power of good, thoughtful art is that it’s not self-serving in the ways that most forms of human communication are,” said Serrano. “Art produces a deeper dialogue that enables individuals to explore their beliefs, fears, aspirations; which in turn allows them to effect change of attitudes and actions within themselves and others.”
The Under the Gun art show is a beginning, not an end.
“I have hope that this will be part of the solution,” said Harold Cobb, rector of Grace Episcopal Church. “If we work together to promote peace, love, and tolerance, we can do great things.”
The opening will take place on January 13 from 6pm until late, and is open to the public. Under the Gun will be on view Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through February 4, 2017.
“We’ve had wonderful support from city officials, the arts community, faith leaders and more, and we have some good programming in place,” said Rohrs. “Why can’t Norfolk be on the forefront of reducing gun violence in all forms? That’s our vision, and it’s a goal that everyone can support if we can just get past the politics and work together.”
For more, here is the opening night event on Facebook.