Monday – Gun Day

More events from the 1st of Jan, 2017, from the Gun Violence Archive

No time for a deep dive today, so just a quick pair of guns:

Eighteen year old Kiara Tatum was killed when a man and a boy fired into a crowd standing outside in Memphis, TN, at about 8pm, from their vehicle. One report said that:

According to Memphis Police Department, 22-year-old Devante Robinson is accused of being one of two people inside a white car that fired shots at a crowd of people on Danville Circle. Kiara Tatum, 18, was killed in the shooting.

The other suspect was identified Tuesday as 17-year-old Jaylen Clayton.

Robinson is charged with first-degree murder, five counts of attempted first-degree murder, and using a gun during a felony.

An earlier report said that:

Clayton is charged with first-degree murder, five counts of attempted first-degree murder, and using a firearm during a felony.

Robinson was out on bond for reckless endangerment at the time, having been in another vehicle from which shots were fired (at children playing outside,) less than a week earlier. And as for Clayton, one of the latest articles I found said that the 17 year old was to be tried as an adult.

Between everything I read, a lot of weapons and ammunition were mentioned, but none named. Amazingly with two guns fired, and reportedly up to five other victims, Tatum was the only one found dead from a gunshot wound.  We’re up to DP 2 yet again, but I’ll add DP1 too, since the exact killer will probably go unidentified.

Default Pistol 2 – S&W M&P
Ruger SR1911 – Default Pistol 1

 

Monday – Gun Day

It’s gun day, and we’re talking about pistols. And the amounts of handguns sold/manufactured/exported/imported in the USA.

To pick up where I left off last Monday, I’d just mentioned that around 71% of all homicides in 2012 involved hand guns. My next self-assigned task is to find the most popular hand gun in the USA, which is a harder ask than what it might look on paper. I have found out that of hand guns, pistols are more popular than revolvers, at least nowadays (The last time the USA manufactured more revolvers than pistols is 1986). According to this, in 2015 the US made more than 3.5 million pistols, (and it made over 100,000 thousand more rifles than that), I can’t tell if these stats includes those destined for the military (I hit a paywall, one in which I may yet invest). I realise this is just manufacturing, and does not account for weapons exported, but this NBC report from 2012 says that as of 2009, the Congressional Research Service puts the numbers at “an estimated 310 million firearms in the United States (not including weapons on military bases), of which 114 million were handguns, 110 million were rifles, and 86 million were shotguns.”

Looking over The United State Department of Justice – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives publication Firearms Commerce in the United States: Statistical Annual Update 2015 (quoted above), it explicitly states that:

“The AFMER report excludes production for the U.S. military but includes firearms purchased by domestic law enforcement agencies”

According to their data, in recent years (I’m sticking as close to 2017 as I can) imports have well outstripped exports – 2013 imports of hand guns: 3,095,528, exports in same period: 188,889 (pistols: 167,653 + revolvers: 21,236).  And local manufacturing produced a combined total of 5,167,008 hand guns, the bulk of which (4,441,726) were pistols. So I think we can safely say that the 2015 figure above was not inclusive of military.

All of which proves what was intimated last week, the most popular US gun is a pistol. But what kind? No-one is handing out that data, unfortunately. When I searched I came up against a proliferation of less-than-adequate top ten lists; everyone with a vested interest, from gun store sites to news outlets (looking at you, CBS News) wants to give the curious reader a top 5, or 10, or 50. (I’m not going to run you, gentle reader, the risk of trashing your google mojo and ruining your online ad tracking data through one thoughtless click, so I’m not going to link those articles. I’ve done my utmost to protect myself, so I’ll let you know if I post anything even slightly questionable.)

Suffice to say, my top 5, culled from the #1 spot from six different most popular/best-selling gun lists, is:

01/ Kel-Tec PMR-30
01/ Colt M1911
01/ Smith & Wesson M&P Shield (this was a multiple #1 place-getter)
01/ Sturm, Ruger & Company
01/ Honor Guard 9mm

I’m sparing us all the images associated with these lists (often stills from movies; Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis are memorable repeat offenders) as well as a few other names that were repeated multiple times with similar placements in the lists.

The best list, in my own option, is the one I will finish with; a great Mother Jones top-10 which is safe for y’all to read. The subhead says it best:

“Meet the moguls making a killing from gun sales in the United States.”

Fully Loaded: Inside the Shadowy World of America’s 10 Biggest Gunmakers

Needless to say, their ten is a scorcher, and at #1 is a familiar name: Sturm Ruger. (That’s the Wikipedia link, and I recommend it over http://www.ruger-firearms.com/ any day.)

Now knowing that I simply don’t have the resources to find the biggest selling pistol of all time in the US (because, for better or worse, my search stops today. Hey, I know, surface barely scuffed, but this is just the first stage in building a collection of weapons on which to base an object work that will eventually be exhibited in a gallery, and I gots to move on…)  I’m going to work with a Sturm, Ruger & Company weapon as my default pistol, thanks to this research. This may or may not be the gun used in the homicides that I will now continue to focus on, but since Ruger is based in the US, makes the most amount of hand guns domestically in a year, is on my list of all lists in taking the biggest share of gun sales, and makes the bulk of its profit from hand guns (see the Mother Jones article quoted above for most of this detail) and since Ruger features in Wikipedia’s list of Most Produced Firearms with pistols, revolvers and rifles, I think they’re as good a candidate as any.

Now to decide which model.

 

// coda //

 

Oh shit.

 

Just reading the Sturm, Ruger & Co. Wikipedia link from above, and I see I need a second trigger warning.

“A Ruger AR-556 was used on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas in the mass killing of 26 churchgoers who were praying at the First Baptist Church”

Resist

Body/Politic is getting some enamelled sistren, and I’m having a trunk show!

Plan for a new work, Resist. Part of my ongoing series of Body/Politic works.
Plan of a work-in-progress piece, Resist, which forms part of my ongoing series of Body/Politic works. To get the colouring I’ll use vitreous enameled tiles against the raw sandblasted steel. The layout of colours is done to spell ‘resist’ in binary, with the 0’s represented by grey tiles, and the 1’s by blue.

Dunno about you, but I woke up with all the nerve endings firing in my gut on Wednesday morning, just before 3am. After nigh on an hour of bleary-eyed semi-consciousness, and after the hopes that sleep would take me back into her embrace had been dashed (such a temperamental lover) I caved in and checked my phone. My sisters in Australia had offered condolences that I didn’t need to swipe through to see, especially the one from Courtenay that ran thusly:

Ffffffffaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrkkkkk

Fuck.

That was the entire message, but it told me that counting had finished and the map had been painted orange. Finally having the early predictions confirmed (I’d gone to bed early, both to avoid the anxiety of waiting and to read a good book – Mary Beard’s recent SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome – which turns out to be quite an apt companion for right now,) was definitely not going to help me sleep.

So I did some thinking. And a bit of googling. And at around 5:30am I placed an enamel order. I’ve never had much call for blue enamel before, so my stocks are paltry. Once this was done, around 6am, I went back to sleep reading about an ancient fallen empire.

My early morning thoughts ran something like this; I already have a body of work that is about putting encoded messages into the world, like this piece:

your body is your vote, 2016. Stainless steel, 585 yellow gold, titanium.
your body is your vote, 2016. Stainless steel, 585 yellow gold, titanium.

Body/Politic is a series of jewels where the medium is part of the message. The two-toned grids of pixels represent lines of binary code. Each piece literally spells out a message on the body of the wearer; readable to those who can interpret binary, the language that is the foundation of our digital culture. (These borrow from the visual language set up for the Drone works.) The messages reflect on the human condition, on how we are embodied, and what that means. The words/phrases that became works in the first series exhibited in March include your body is your vote (above), body, vote, unrepresented body, power and recently (just last week, for an upcoming show in May) I completed intensely embodied.

These are pieces are personal and political. They are words that reflect on my own physical body and its position in the world, and on the bodies of others who are in significantly more compromising situations, most particularly those bodies in combat areas, migrating bodies and those bodies who are suffering with illness.

Now before this gets too heavy, lets get back to the quality thinking time that my sleepless hours gifted me. So I have a trunk show booked for next week, and while I’ve been making the measured and politically/socially reflexive jewels like the work above over the last few years, none of those pieces are slated to be on the table next week. My plans for this week were to spend some time reorganising my stash of jewels to find some things that the good folks of Seattle haven’t seen before, and to make a few last pieces from the leftover parts of my La Geometrie laser-cuts to take along with me.

But then y’all had to go and elect an orange for a president.

I very purposely chose a blue top to wear yesterday, in protest (stay with me, this is relevant). And I’m in blue jeans today. Why? Because in my waking hours I was fixating on the fact that blue is the complimentary colour to orange on the colour wheel. Yep, this means it’s the opposite. So I’ve taken all this care dressing because I want to be the opposite of orange (yeah, despite my red hair.) But blue doesn’t just stand in opposition. It is the colour of the tears being shed for this and other depressing and alarming recent political events.

Blue is the colour of that soon-to-be pendant at the top of this (very long) blog post. It is the colour of the stockings on the women fighting to inform, enlighten and protect themselves, and it is the colour that HRC used to paint her campaign, and Bernie Sanders his. It’s the colour of the sky, of steel, and a bloody nice colour for an absolute shit-tonne of enamelled earrings.

And lets reiterate here, in RYB colour theory it’s the colour diametrically opposed to orange.

Body/Politic - Resist earrings

As it turns out, blue is the colour of the logo of Islamic Relief USA as well.

My search to find the opposite of an orange charity also began in the wee hours of Wednesday, and I’ve selected this one to give 10% of the purchase price of each pair of my brand new line of Resist earrings (pictured above) sold anywhere in the world. They’re going to retail for $30 US, and orders will be direct through me. (For anyone outside of Seattle, my postage price is being confirmed – please see below.)

About my blue charity:

Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), based in Alexandria, Virginia, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) humanitarian agency and member of the Islamic Relief Worldwide group of organizations. IRUSA was founded in California in 1993. In addition to international relief and development initiatives, Islamic Relief USA also sponsors and funds domestic projects ranging from emergency disaster responses to assisting the American homeless population and supporting those who cannot afford basic healthcare.

Wikipedia

My pitch:

Resist Earrings, $30 (US dollars) a pair.
stainless steel + blue enamel.

For your set you can mix and match or play it straight, or even buy an extra one so you can decide what kind of (blue) day you’re having. More colours (yup, all blue*) coming soon. How to get yours? See below or email me: resist@melissacameron.net

Trunk Show!

If you’re in Seattle, please come along next week if you’re keen to check out my rainbow of blue earrings* or if you just need a shoulder. Together we can chat about resistance. It’s on at:

Danaca Design
5619 University Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98105
Thursday, November 17 at 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
(Facebook event – do them a favour for catering and let them know if you can 😉 )

Earring suppliers!

Australia: you can count on Bilk and Bini Galleries getting a stack of these in the next week also, and for my sistren in Perth, I’ll see y’all in December and I’ll be sure to carry a few of these in my pocket.

USA: If you’re not in the PNW keep a look out, I’ll be posting the postage details ASAP

Canada – OK, BC: I’m heading up to Vancouver in a couple of weeks (no, not seeking asylum, though did I tell you the one about my grandparent who was born 12 miles south of Tisdale??) so let me know and I’ll bring them with me. The rest of you? Let me figure something out. We’re family!

Everywhere else: If you’re keen please get in contact and I’ll figure out your shipping rate. (I will be in Munich for the second week of March, and might even head to the UK for a hot minute, so if you can hold out that long…)

 

In the mean time, know that while my heart is blue, my gaze is steely.

 

*My Dad bought me my first car, back in the day. While we were looking around at listings he told me, “You can have any colour you like, so long as it’s blue.” I gratefully received a Corolla in midnight blue, despite preferring the burgundy…

From the ephemeral to the very corporeal

Dancing and driving. Some thoughts about writing and how to help Combat Paper get a new van.

I have to share this: Zadie Smith’s latest piece for The Guardian, What Beyoncé taught me. I’d like to explain my thoughts on it, but it would be a disservice to do more than quote:

The connection between writing and dancing has been much on my mind recently: it’s a channel I want to keep open. It feels a little neglected – compared to, say, the relationship between music and prose – maybe because there is something counter-intuitive about it. But for me the two forms are close to each other: I feel dance has something to tell me about what I do.

I’ll leave you to read the rest, if you fancy.

I’ve been thinking about writing quite a bit lately, as I struggle to make my writing and my work parallel one another for a few different fora. I’ve had occasion to write both proposals for new work as well as explanatory texts for pieces (and in some cases, both, in remarkably quick succession) and it’s been interesting to look back over ‘projections’ versus ‘justifications/explanations’. In more than one piece I worried that I talked a good game, but that the work wasn’t going to live up to the rhetoric. That remained in the back of my mind over separate making processes, and probably changed the outcomes in some way that I’m not yet able to put my finger on.

Meeting my own written expectations wasn’t something that I had worried about before; first of all because I didn’t think the writing was ever veering out of it’s lane by aiming for a poetic display that I would rather the work be in charge of, and secondly because I didn’t think I had a good enough handle on writing about my work in anything but as a kind of documentation.

But the works in my most recent exhibition changed many of my ways of working, including what was written and where the work needed the writing to support it. I don’t subscribe to the idea that an accompanying text is only necessary when the work fails to do all the talking, and thanks to Ben Lignel for reminding us that the British Museum (I think it was… I can’t find the article on AJF) was using words as an interpretive tool to help democratise access to the collection (ie, make it accessible to the burgeoning middle class) back in the 1800’s.

I do and don’t want to explain my work. I want it to do well in the world and so I am prepared to give it context, but I also think, like many others, that it exists because I can’t communicate what it does in any other fashion. To me, making is a form of communication outside written and spoken language, that has its own set of symbols (alphabet) and that makes connections that are not impeded by having to find the word or the flow of words to explain itself, and that it might even navigate inside of us without engaging with the conscious (and word-forming) part of the mind. But now I have recognised that being quite a language-y person, my penchant for writing and talking (my hobbies include calligraphy, for heavens sake) could have the potential to get in the way.

I’m not sure it will, (though perhaps it already has, what a mortifying thought!) and I don’t doubt that it has happened before, but I would hate for my words to set the scene for objects that don’t/can’t deliver. On the flip side, I’m starting to realise why so many artists don’t want to talk about their work.

You have my empathy, if not my allegiance.


Replica 1989 Lapua Magnum sniper rifle cartridges in handmade Combat Paper (made by Drew Cameron from military uniforms) with surgical catgut stitching.
Uniform Shells, 2015. Replica 1989 Lapua Magnum sniper rifle cartridges in handmade Combat Paper (made by Drew Cameron from military uniforms) with surgical catgut stitching.

To get down to earth again for a bit, I want to put this out there: Combat Paper needs a new van.

Drew F Cameron (no relation, really, there’s a few more Camerons here than there were back home, I even met one on the phone last week…) is an ex US service-person, and he makes paper all over the US, with, among others, other ex-military personnel, out of their old uniforms.  He kindly gifted me with some of the offcuts of his toil last year, and I used them to make art about war and its effects on the body – the body politic specifically –  as in us, and all of humanity.

Suffice to say, his cause has my heart, and his need for a van (since his last one was recently stolen) has rallied the rest of my body to the cause. If you can help out, please do. I can vouch for the work that he does, and I hope to be able to meet him one day and tell him as much. And maybe even make some paper.

In today’s Seattle Times

An image of Melissa’s wok is in the newspaper, along with a insightful commentary about Micki Lippe’s piece in the same show. Connections abound!

Detail image of work My House - Tanya Lippe's Lunch Box, made out of a section of Tanya's lunch box and stainless steel.
Detail image of work My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box, made out of a section of Tanya’s lunch box and stainless steel.

An article entitled: Transforming metal: ‘Metalmorphosis’ exhibit at BAM shows new possibilities by Gayle Clemans was published in the Seattle Times newspaper today. It’s a review of the Metalmorphosis exhibition at the Bellevue Arts Museum here in Seattle, and features an image of part of my installation My House: Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box (the print version has a large reproduction of the brooch section of my piece next to the article – online it’s in a slide section, of the image included above) as well as an insightful commentary about Micki Lippe‘s work, among others.

As you might have guessed I was pretty chuffed when I found out, doubly so as the news came via an excited email from Micki this morning!

And yes, for those of you yet to see the show or not familiar with local jewellery doyenne Micki Lippe, Tanya is the name of Micki’s daughter. I’m not trying to tease with my lack of details – in fact there’s been some descriptions in Instagram of the work – but I’ve been refraining from posting full images of the installation until Micki has seen it, as due to other commitments she missed the openings at the start of the month.

Right, I’m off, to go get a copy of the newspaper 😉

Nadia Myre and Sheryl Oring

Nadia Myre and Sheryl Oring – images used without permission, please contact me should you want them taken down.

Nadia Myre: Indian Act, 1999-2002. Detail.

A couple of great projects I’ve seen online that I thought I’d share.

Thanks to the perfectly titled Fuck Yeah, Book Arts! site, I’ve been meditating on the beautiful beaded works orchestrated by Nadia Myre:

Nadia Myre, Indian Act

Indian Act speaks of the realities of colonization – the effects of contact, and its often-broken and untranslated contracts. The piece consists of all 56 pages of the Federal Government’s Indian Act mounted on stroud cloth and sewn over with red and white glass beads. Each word is replaced with white beads sewn into the document; the red beads replace the negative space.

Between 1999 and 2002, Nadia Myre enlisted over 230 friends, colleagues and strangers to help her bead over the Indian Act. With the help of Rhonda Meier, they organized workshops and presentations at Concordia University, and hosted weekly beading bees at Oboro Gallery, where it was presented as part of the exhibition, Cont[r]act, in 2002.

Nadia Myre: Indian Act, 1999-2002. Detail.

The piece itself is strikingly beautiful, a perfect realisation of her concept.

A fuller description of the project and her method are available at The Medicine Project website, with more (exquisitely beaded!) work and great photos of this project at her website.

Secondly, with thanks to the Creative Capital blog, I bring you the I Wish to Say project by Sheryl Oring!

byuongupelforu
In summer 2015, a team of five typists took dictation at the Out of Site Festival in Chicago. Photo: Dhanraj Emanuel

Oring has been banding groups of volunteer typists to write postcards to politicians. She started the project with postcards to the President (of the USA, that is) and has recently moved on to the current presidential candidates, using volunteers to take dictation the same manner that she did with her first outing, dressed as a 1960’s stenographer:

In 2006, Sheryl dressed as a 1960s secretary, set up a portable public office complete with a manual typewriter in public areas across the country, and typed birthday cards to then President Bush as dictated by passers-by.

She has gone on to take in commentary of the Obama administration, and is about to start taking down community thoughts on the current lunacy presidential nomination battle.

and the effect?

I’ll never forget this guy in Chicago, at one of the last shows. He came down to where I was taking photographs and said, “I just want you to know that I am a better American because I participated in your project.”

The empowerment experienced by participants has of course been likened to therapy, which I think is a really interesting outcome of the process. Why does the act of airing your thoughts to someone who is an impartial observer give one a feeling of closure, more than, say, talking it out to a like-minded friend or relative? I also think of this project in relation to the public displays of jewellery creation and/or gifting that I have seen. I think the strength of this piece is its sustained and clearly impactful interaction, which is fostered using a rather generic and easily replicable format.

Sheryl Oring presents I Wish to Say April 26 as part of the PEN World Voices Festival at Bryant Park. You can dictate a letter to presidential candidates, or volunteer to act as a typist.

Some flight reading

Reading about drones and gold. What a match!

Work In Progress - Nickname: Drone
Work In Progress – Nickname: Drone

Been reading about a project to create a drone-proof city on Polis, which started as, “[A] semi-ironic architectural response to drone warfare.” As a though experiment it’s really interesting, but as a cityscape – my feeling is that it can’t help but feel oppressive. On the flip side, you can have a beautiful and open city but if the state is oppressive/aggressive then the citizenry are still going to notice, and if it’s not your state that is the aggressor, perhaps it’s the only option. I’ve been studying drone warfare for a while now. Those of you on Instagram have seen the work in progress of my drone piece, which will be heading to Canberra in March. Be prepared..!

The other reading I have noted to share is courtesy of that old standard, Kit and Caboodle. I know, been a while, huh? Cate, the coordinator over there popped this on her blog; it’s about a new ‘mining’ (reclaiming) technique for gold, using acetic acid. Yup, vinegar. Awesome!

Intimate Immensities

Garland. A new magazine, and I have a hard copy, and I’m in the online exhibition

artist Serideh Karimi
artist Serideh Karimi

I’m currently involved in a beautiful online exhibition at the new Garland Magazine. My work has been featured along a slew of other poetic works by craft artists from all over, under the theme Intimate Immensities. The exhibition was curated by Olivia PintosLopez, one of the co-creators of the magazine.

I signed up as a supporter of the first edition of the magazine and received a hand-decorated copy hard copy (of my own choosing) of the feature essay, and thus the poised tonal painting of a ballerina by Serideh Karimi that adorns my cover has been displayed proudly in my dining room at the centre of the table since its arrival.

Garland has another open call, this time with the theme of Second Home, listed on their site right now if you are interested in getting involved. The deadline for entries of this juried exhibition close on the 22nd of February. The magazine itself features thoughtful articles by many different contributors, including several by artists.

For your eyes and ears

For your reading/viewing pleasure – a few links I’m getting all ‘up in the grill’ of.

Rivet-ing..!

1/ There’s a lot of jewellery shenanigans afoot if you’re in the UK right now, but if you’re not, don’t despair – Junk: Rubbish to Gold are a multi-platform experience! The best place to find out what’s happening with these artists, who if you remember from an earlier posting are transforming tonnes (note UK spelling, y’all) of junk jewellery into fancy new art-jewel adornments, is to check the FB page or to see the feed (including mentions) on twitter. And of course there will be more YouTube videos like the above!

2/ An article that grabbed my attention today came from the mothership (ok, so home-land is so boring a te..z zz zzzzzzzzz) from Hazel Dooney. You can read up on her in your own time, but her post, a Declaration Of DIY Independence was a good kick-up-the-arse on a Monday afternoon for this slow-moving target.

3/ Finally – because 3 topics in a single post is such good number, (and hey, is even good in earrings – I have a couple of pairs who are missing mates at the moment and I can tell you now that I will never re-make their buddies…) I want to thank everyone who sent me warm emails and Instagram and Twitter posts after the last couple of blog posts I put up here. I did not expect, and really do appreciate, the kindness shown to me and the warmth of your consoling words. If I’m honest, it’s been a bit of a struggle to have the energy to do everything that I have wanted to, or would normally do without thinking, over the last few weeks, so now more than ever I appreciate the fact that people have taken the time to send an encouraging missive, in whatever form.

And on that note, I hope you’re all keeping well and enjoying the fruits of whatever season you’re currently in.

xx

m