January 11 - March 15, 2014
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 11th | 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Gallery Talk: 7:00 pm
Omaha has recently had a great deal of media attention surrounding crime, gun violence and the legislation that intersects it. Mitchell Squire’s exhibition We're gonna have to do more than talk at the Bemis Center’s Carver Bank venue explores how and if visual art can contribute to a better understanding and redress for the complex issues surrounding gun violence, particularly as it relates to the black community.
The core of this exhibition consists of “The Young Gladiators” (2013), a series of ten works which feature bulk law enforcement paper gun range targets riddled with bullet holes. Framed in layers with the reverse side facing outward, the practice sheets place the viewers in the position of the targeted objects, which, due to the wildly variant shot patterns, resemble a highly abstracted version of the human figure. As non-art artifacts, these artillery targets don’t sensationalize or glorify gun violence; rather they provide quiet, contemplative and tangible portraits of the complex relationship between gun violence, gun control and the mediation of personal and national tragedies. ‘
“Dominium, 2006” builds upon the theme of gun violence via a sculptural array of small, toy-like, laser-cut acrylic figurines in the form of target silhouettes. Composed on the floor, they have a playfully precarious aspect to them, particularly when—and if—they are toppled like dominos. This same silhouette motif comprises a pair of large drawings that round out the exhibition. They explore the same afterimage of the practice targets in “The Young Gladiators,” but like “Dominium” they do so by more direct narrative means. The hauntingly quiet “We’re gonna have to do more than talk” and “You can kill a revolutionary…” are hauntingly quiet works Squire created with a rubber stamp and black ink on paper. The works take their title from statements made by activist and deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton, who was killed while sleeping in his Chicago apartment during a police raid in 1969 at the young age of 21.
Taken together, the comprehensive exhibition of the works in We're gonna have to do more than talk makes for a smart, impactful, timely and highly sophisticated exploration of gun violence, one that reflects and reflects upon the pressing issues facing the black community in Omaha.