Today I was just going to share the articles from Contemporary Craft’s (CC’s) latest email circular about the Transformations exhibition. But there’s another mass shooting to address first, in Squirrel Hill, just a few neighbourhoods across from The Strip District where CC is currently located. In the reporting I read, the shooter “used three Glock 357 handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle” to murder 11 people and injure four police officers.
The victims are:
“Joyce Fienberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65, Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and his brother David Rosenthal, 54; married couple Bernice Simon, 84, and Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69.”
America, I know you know this, but your right to bear arms comes with the implicit flip-side; an expectation that you, your friend, your lover, your child….
Please excuse me my tardiness, Alexa ate my homework… OK, now I’m lying on top of being late – as if I’d trust a robot to do my data mining. I was actually enjoying some sun in LA over the weekend with Turbo, to celebrate a few anniversaries – one of which I mentioned last week – and catching up with Kaoru Rogers, fellow jeweller and (serial) immigrant.
But now it’s back down the data mine.
Aaron Patrick Presley (the 37 year old is also reported as being called Patrick Presley,) was killed just before 5am in a tavern in Milwaukee. Tiron J. Grant (31) allegedly shot Presley after Presley confronted him when he said hello and grabbed the hand of a woman in the bar, who turned out to be Presley’s fiancée. I could find no further details about progress in the case against Grant beyond charges and the preliminary hearing date – January 13th 2017. The only mention of the weapon was that a revolver, and the suspect’s clothes, were hidden by the suspect in alleyway garbage bins near the tavern.
I’ve drawn one revolver so far, the Ruger Single Six .22 from incident #15, as a .22 caliber was specified in the reporting that I unearthed. I had a hunch that there was a more common revolver, so after a quick dig, I give you the Smith & Wesson Model 10. Why this weapon? Well, on Wikipedia’s list of most produced firearms it sits at the top of revolvers with 6 million units sold. This makes it the biggest selling revolver ever (at least on that list), though given that it’s been in continuous production since 1899, the Model 10 has had over 100 years to climb to that spot – which on that chart makes for a slow build rather than a meteoric rise (but then confirming sales data for 100 years is somewhat of a tall order). By comparison, the already featured Glock 17 is listed just below the Model 10 with a low estimate of production of 6 million and a high of 10 million. It has only been in production since 1982, so that in itself is an indication of the rapid increase in the global gun population.
It’s also interesting to note that it is “previously known as the Smith & Wesson .38 Hand Ejector Model of 1899, the Smith & Wesson Military & Police or the Smith & Wesson Victory Model.” Thanks Wikipedia.
I’ve already drawn a weapon that is known as the Smith & Wesson Military & Police, which you might recall is a pistol. It’s nice to know that Smith & Wesson like to keep their branding current while getting to add a certain old-school, or perhaps I should say, time honoured, vibe, thanks to some cleverly manufactured “continuity.”
When I wrote about Sir Bob Geldof a few weeks back, I forgot to insert my infinitesimal anecdote. My family were celebrating the 21st birthday of the youngest of my siblings a few years back at an ever-popular riverside restaurant in my home town of Perth…
Quick aside: about a week or so back, on finding out that I came from the western-most Australian capital city, my Lyft driver said, “Most isolated city in the world!” It’s the achingly familiar catch-cry of residents and visitors alike, to which I’m not sure that I actually hold because there are plenty of other contenders, like Auckland, or Honolulu, or others that you can google. BTW, Lyft-er had been to my home town, and proceeded to tell me about happy times spent at The Court Hotel and Connections. As my fellow Perthlings can attest, they knew how to have a good time!
…Anyway, sitting outdoors at fancy restaurant surrounded by large family-of-origin and their spouses, and who walks in to also sit on the balcony, but the aforementioned knighted gentleman! “WTF is he doing in Perth?” was on the lips of the collected Cameron party. Til someone remembered that it was St Patrick’s Day. In our defense, we were all focused on other celebrations – the birthday dinner had been slightly delayed to coincide with Turbo and I coming to town in time for the impending nuptials of a couple also seated at that table. March is a big month for me and my people 😉
St Patrick’s Day is also the anniversary of my move to the US, which happened in 2012. Yup, six years this Saturday. A little while back I realised that I’ve practiced here longer than I have – in either of my careers – within Australia. Explains a few things..
Well, that was an unusually gentle introduction. Now the guns.
We start this week in Cobb County, Georgia, where a Canton resident, Chad Erik Roberts (35) was killed by two officers of the Woodstock Police Department, Matt Davis and William Vincent. Roberts had first contact with the police at 10:09pm on the 31st of December, when he was stopped in a parking lot next to a gas station. From the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News:
“The driver of the vehicle initially spoke to the officer but then fled in his vehicle, striking the officer,” Rich said. “Officers with the Canton Police Department pursued the vehicle into the Woodstock area.”
Woodstock Police and Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office deputies joined in on the chase and a tire deflation device was used to disable Roberts’ vehicle, which came to a stop in the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 near the Wade Green Road exit, investigators said.
“The driver exited the vehicle and presented a gun during contact with law enforcement,” Rich said. “Two officers with the Woodstock Police Department fired their weapons during the incident. The driver sustained gunshot wounds and died as a result of his injuries.”
Later in the same article, it states that, “The Canton officer who was hit by the man’s car was transported to a local hospital, treated and released, Canton Police Chief Mark Mitchell said.” while the two officers who shot Roberts were put on administrative leave pending an investigation.
With initial contact between the police and Rogers around 10pm – where he apparently ran over the foot of an officer as he departed – my thought was to double-check that this shooting was not misfiled as a January 1 event. But it turns out that at 2am, around four hours later, the shooting took place on the blocked-off interstate highway, once the victim/”driver exited the vehicle and presented a gun during contact with law enforcement.” (From the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.) If you think it sounds odd, you’re not alone, and it being an officer-involved crime has given it a bit of extra attention.
I was unable to find out anything about the guns of any of the people involved. The Woodstock Police Department falls in Cherokee County, GA, and after much research I found out that they carry the Glock 23. It’s not the best reference, but the neighbouring Cobb County PD publish in their policy documents that they use a Glock 22, so this choice has a bit of weight behind it. Georgia’s law enforcement seem to have a lot of Glocks in their register, and they probably belong to a huge swathe of the rest of the population due to Georgia’s “Guns Everywhere” laws, (Al Jazeera) as well as a couple of cities who have managed to make owning guns mandatory. (I am not linking to that data.) The 23 is meant to have the same dimensions as the Glock 19, excepting weight, to account for the slightly bigger round you can fire in the 23. And the 19 is a slightly scaled-down version of the 17, which is the first officer-fired gun that I drew in this series.
So here’s my second Glock, but the first drawing of a Glock 23. There’s two, one each for Davis and Vincent, the officers who fired on Rogers.
Lewis was on a bicycle and had a prolonged – 11 minute – encounter during which he fired his weapon (the officers did not feel threatened at this point so continued with other negotiation methods) and refused to speak with the officers. Only when he pointed the weapon at the officers from a distance of about 10 feet, did three of them open fire at Lewis. Officers Joshua Brown, Daniel Carlson and Brandon Gonzales have been placed on leave pending an investigation.
By contrast with the first incident this week, the guns that officers in the Springfield Police Department carry were easy to find in their Standard Operating Guidelines. The Department Issued Handgun is a Glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun. There are a lot of Glocks that take a 9mm cartridge, so I’m going to go with the one I used for the Chicago PD earlier, the Glock 17. Three of them, because of the three police who fired at Lewis.
It occurred to me earlier this morning that writing this post is why currently I don’t like Mondays. At the thought, I started singing the eponymous-ly titled The Boomtown Rats song in my head. And then the vague memory pushed its way in, that the song is about something…
Just to clarify why Geldof (or Sir Bob, if you will,) wrote the song, I brushed up on my history. It is about shooting spree in San Diego committed by Brenda Ann Spencer, in 1979, at an elementary school, which resulted in the death of two adults (the principal and a custodian both trying to protect the kids) and injured eight children and a police officer. Spencer gave her reason to a reporter: “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.” (That second link, a Snopes article, is the source for the identities of the dead, and is an interesting read.)
With that sprinkling of feet-dragging now behind me, it’s time to get to the issue at hand.
Juan Manuel Belmarez (35) was killed in Edcouch, Tx at around 5pm. He was killed whilst in a white SUV, which was pictured afterward peppered with multiple bullet holes in the windscreen. As his father recounts it in an article appealing for witnesses four months after the event, he must have faced an ambush to have been shot from two directions, with the vehicle hit 39 times. The Texas Rangers are investigating, but there is no information about the assailants, or the guns used in the crime. With that many shorts fired hand guns seem a less likely culprit, but with nothing else to go on that’s what I’ll use.
Gun crime #21 is a rarity, and gets both default pistols.
Another drug deal gone bad. According to the Tampa Bay Times, teenager Jayquon Johnson (17) was killed by the hand gun of 16 year old Cody Quinn, in Quinn’s mother’s garage, in Valrico, Florida. It is alleged that Johnson pulled a gun on Quinn in an attempt to steal the drugs he was buying from Quinn, after which Quinn pulled a weapon from his waistband and fired on Johnson, who later died in hospital. On hearing the shots in her garage, Heidi Quinn ran outside and took both guns away from the boys, and started to bury them, before changing her mind and replacing them and calling the cops.
In April it was revealed that Cody would not face murder charges as his self-defense argument could not be refuted by investigators, but as he was selling marijuana, and a safe containing same as well as oxycodone pills was found inside the house, both mother and son are facing other charges, hers relating to evidence tampering and his to unlawful gun possession and other drug charges. As Heidi Quinn’s first trial resulted in a deadlocked jury, a mistrial was called. She was due to be tried again in December. No news on her sons trial.
Default Pistol 1, again.
Romoan J. Mitchell, a 40-year-old Henrico County man, was reported missing in late 2016 before he was found fatally shot New Year’s Day 2017 in Richmond.
He was found around 10:30am on the 1st by an officer around the 3400 block on Belt Boulevard. The Medical Examiner determined the death was by gunshot wound. He was found in a wooded area and the type of bullet and speculation on the gun that fired it were not mentioned. DP2, again.
Deandre Berry (27) was found shot around 9:40pm on Jan 1st. He was taken to hospital where he died. There is no suspect and no gun known, though “a man was seen fleeing the scene wearing a light colored hooded sweatshirt” according to WLWT5 news website. When searching for more details I found a crowdfunding page set up by family to pay for his funeral. DP1
I just learned that there is a publicly accessible page (Wiki) documenting homicides in New Orleans in 2017, made by the NolaMessenger.com. What a great piece of community reporting/tech. This was in my search for details on Tarik Smith, alleged killer of forty year old Joseph Smith, in Mid-Town, New Orleans around 2:20pm on New Years Day. The shooter was identified when he turned himself into police, accompanied by his attorney, on January 12 of the same year. It was not known if they were related at the time of reporting. He was charged with second degree murder. It was reported that 8 or 9 shots were fired, and Joseph Smith died at the scene. No gun details. DP2
Five more gun killings recorded, with 6 more unknown guns. And we have reached gun crime 25, and the end of page 1 on the Gun Violence Archive site.
In a not-so-happy coincidence, on the same day that many of us found out about the latest mass killing in the USA, I received the cheque for the sale of my Gun work to the University of Iowa Museum of Art.
So here’s a little about work, for which I began the research in December 2012, and finally finished the last part of about a year later, in early 2014.
The work Gun (a suite of three wearable pieces) is from the Escalation series. The works in Escalation are each made from domestic objects, taken out of their usual context and transformed into loaded jewels. Together the complete series reflects thousands of years of human history, the history we have of making weapons of war. The works (there is at least two wearable items for each ‘piece’) are loosely grouped into branches, based on the proximity to which the assailant would have to have to the victim (and vice versa) when used, which makes the whole Escalation project into a kind of family tree of tools for killing.
The Gun work is the Sword’s companion on one branch, as I see the gun as the successor to the sword in close combat situations. Rifles were the earliest effective firearms, so it was not a huge leap to use the Bushmaster XM15-E2S as my gun archetype. Sold as a hunting rifle in the USA, it is “a variant of the AR-15 first built by ArmaLite,”[i] “as an assault rifle for the United States armed forces.” (also known as the M16)[ii]. This Bushmaster is the weapon that was used for the Newtown massacre in 2012. If you see the whole series together, it becomes more obvious that this piece is the only one in my Escalation series that does not focus the wartime outcomes of a particular weapon. In making this exception, I wanted to make the point that these military grade weapons are available far too easily to the citizens of the US, and thus are in the homes and lives of ordinary people, which results in the premature deaths of this country’s most vulnerable citizens.
I made this piece from a strangely long and slightly medical-looking tray I bought new, at Daiso. I gave it 30 full-sized NATO shells (I chose there to depict the military round rather than the hunting round made by Remington), as 30 is the magazine’s capacity. I made 77 holes in the tray in the unfired bullet diameter, and strung the 77 cutouts on steel cable, which together add up to the 154 bullets expended within the school. The gun is made at 1:4 scale, making it very obvious to wear and more realistic than the miniature gun bling that is occasionally in fashion. The neckpiece with the 77 cutouts is 15m/40′ long, to represent, again at 1:4 scale (full scale being at least 60m/197′) the minimum distance that the shooter would have traversed inside of the school. I read the police report and literally plotted the shooter’s movements onto a floor plan of the school that I found online, to calculate the approximate length.
Finally, in all the pictures that accompany this series, I am wearing the works. They are photos I took of myself, by myself, and when these works are shown, they were a part of the display. It is important that the works, and the troubling histories that they represent, are on me. Like they are on all of humanity. And I for one am not at all happy about it.
[i] ‘AR-15’. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, 26 April 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=AR-15&oldid=551188045.
St Patrick’s day; the middle day of 3 straight days of anniversaries, for me. From the image above I think it’s easy enough to guess what happened to me on the 17th of March 2012. My life, my work, everything changed. But, one can say that about every day that we get to share on this planet. For me, this last 5 years has been full of days like these.
In answer to a reader question; yes, the material that makes the work My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box is all from Tanya’s old lunch box, barring the stainless steel rivets, c-shaped connections, chain (handmade and otherwise) and cable that joins the altered parts together.
In fact there’s actually a few parts missing. The plastic handle and chrome fittings are not part of the design, and there is a series of five small pins (about 27 x 4mm each) that are not part of the installation. One of these I have kept (not a habit of mine, but these were particularly meaningful to me, in a piece that became surprisingly personal over the course of the design and making), and four were given to Micki before the piece was installed.
What you can’t see in this image is the hinge pin that was removed, the handle tethers, and an internal feature meant to hold a thermos flask in place in the top section of the box (it was roughly the shape of the stylized ‘V’ on the front.) All this was wire, in approximately 1.5 – 2mm diameter steel, which was cut up, drilled into, enameled and re-joined to make the chain that holds the big ‘snowflake’ section in the centre.
If you’ve already seen this on Instagram my apologies, but the lovely co-director of Bilk, Mio Kuhnen, let the world know over the weekend that two of my pieces from the recent Body Politic exhibition in Canberra were just acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. This takes their Melissa Cameron tally up to 3!
I was in a bit of shock to have such a long and considered gallery visit with Dr Robert Bell (curator of decorative arts at the NGA) while I was in Canberra, on the day before the official opening of the show. He was very inquisitive, and if you’re read any of the text surrounding these works, you’ll have seen that there are a lot of stories to tell, so I was honoured to impart my narrative of these and the other works. He even asked my opinion – what I thought of the pieces he was deliberating and why – and I had to tell him that it took me a long time to come to terms with the Tank piece especially, as I found it brutal and dark when I first finished it.
Finishing that work as one of the earliest in the series – the Cannon and Tank were conceived at the same time – made continuing and then creating even more complex pieces an easier pill to swallow. I look back now and see that they were really just a prelude to the Gun piece, which, while only completed in late 2013 early 2014, was really begun with the horrific events in Sandy Hook in December of 2012. I see now that I put those details away for a while, and decided to start in more neutral territory – a Civil War era cannon and an M1 Abrams tank as fitted out for use by the Australian Army, as a sort of way to first test and then brace myself before moving deeper into this series.
I had a terrible grief-ridden winter this year as I finished up this series, and while the Drone probably didn’t help, I can’t say it hurt either. I now conflate the two in my memory. The Drone and last winter were inevitable, and surviving each of them needed the other as a crutch, in a sort of incongruous symbiosis.
But before all that, when I just had a Tank and a Cannon in my arsenal, I wasn’t sure if I would continue. The duo could have easily remained an outlier, an experiment that was discontinued before it had really begun. So it’s also them I have to thank for begetting the rest of the Escalation series, including the Drone that got me through.
Goodbye good friends, I hope to see you again some time 😉
I don’t know if I have mentioned my love of podcasts here before? I don’t think I have. It’s what I do. I make jewellery in the afternoons, and listen to people talk.
I was listening to a favourite today, 99% Invisible with Roman Mars. It’s a design podcast, and it’s chock full of ‘aha’ moments – you know, that point when someone links two phenomena that you were already familiar with and explains how they’re interrelated or interdependent? I love those moments. It’s the awe of pure learning.
This latest episode though really spoke to my heart, as it echoed back what I found out about the quatrefoil during my MFA research. One at a time, I’ve probably strung over a thousand of these shapes in my jewellery works. And hell, any podcast that name-checks Owen Jones gets two thumbs up.
And then Alex Sandifer (@Refidnas) in the comments section of that page has linked a clip to Sesame Street; because of the connection to Jones’ works by the ‘Street animators. See what I mean about the ‘aha’?
The speakers list for the Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia conference Participation and Exchange has been finalised and it looks like a very interesting lineup, (and that is despite my bias of actually being on it.)
My buddies Mary Hackett and Christine Scott Young are going to talk about a couple of Melbourne-based organisations that are very close to my heart, Part B particularly so. Going from the title alone I’m also guessing that Helena Bogucki is also going to tug on my heartstrings, as she talks about her work that both comes from and engages with my home-state, Western Australia.
And I’m presenting a paper entitled How to become an Artist jeweller: a community Case Study (which probably should have ‘in the US‘ appended after jeweller), about the options available for training wannabe artists and metal smiths in Seattle. This is not as straightforward as it sounds given the closure of the approx 90 year-old local university program at the University of Washington a few years ago. Mary Lee Hu was the head there for many years, and when she finally decided to retire the university took the opportunity to close down the course. Sound like a recipe for disaster that could only happen in the US? Well, for a while there it looked as though my alma mater, Monash University, might be facing the same fate, so it’s a topic that I have more than a passing interest in. Lucky for Melbourne the program there still exists, but my investigation on Seattle unearthed a few more reasons as to why the loss of this college program was a tough blow to artists and school leavers in this city.
I was also hoping to carry on from this discussion to some more details of the other side of the industry – how to make it in the world once you have graduated from uni. There are a few different ideas on that here in the North America, but I had to cut that section owing to time constraints. What I’m saying is, if you manage to corner me in a bar some time, there’s plenty more of the tale to tell…