|An Introduction ...|
Violence enters our lives daily, sometimes through actual physical confrontations against our own selves or loved ones, but also in subtle ways, through newspapers and television reporting on everything from domestic abuse involving a next door neighbor to violent clashes between warring factions on the other side of the world. The presence of so much violence in our lives affects us deeply and no one group is impacted more than our youth. The shooting of young Kayla Rowland by a 6-year-old at Theo J. Buell Elementary School in Flint a year ago touched the lives of many of our students at Mott Community College. The College is situated in a city which has seen more than its share of hard times. Unemployment, transience, high rates of violent crime, and decaying neighborhoods are offset by access to educational opportunities, cultural resources and local foundation support for innovative ideas to help solve these problems.
The Animating Democracy Initiative Grant Program funded by the C.S. Mott Foundation has given students at the College the opportunity to address the personal impact of gun violence on their lives and their community through the creation of sculptures, paintings, drawings, prints and multimedia graphics. The development of this website by student members of Studio 205, under the direction of Mara Fulmer, results in a wider dissemination of the artistic responses and brings the dialogue to a broader audience.
Students of Cathy Smith, Tom Nuzum, John Dempsey, Jim Bakken, Janet Lorch, Mara Fulmer and other Mott faculty have created work in a variety of two- and three-dimensional artworks in both traditional and digital forms. Students were encouraged to look within themselves to share their personal stories, fears and concerns about gun violence and to provide a written statement that would augment our understanding of their creative responses to the issue. The development of classroom projects created an atmosphere in which students could discuss the complexities of the issue and express themselves through their work:
Brad Deans poignant outline in white toys against an asphalt parking lot evokes the image of a chalk outline of a child felled by gun violence; a simple red cloth denotes both the childŐs heart and the site of the wound.
Walter Sturgills installation of knocked over school lockers, suggesting the shapes of coffins, is a powerful reminder of the frightening situation that many students face when they come to school. Other students address social problems, like unemployment and drugs, that may lead to instability and sometimes violence.
Emily Tibbetts collage in the style of Romare Bearden juxtaposes factory imagery with the faces of the unemployed.
Chaunce´ Reids expanse of deflated basketballs, dedicated to his cousin who was killed on the playground, relates violence to drug use. His hope is that by bringing the issue out into the open, other young men and women will escape the finality of death by gunfire.
It is our hope that the images in this multimedia project will raise awareness and lead to further dialogue about this important issue.