Tackling the Issues of Gun Violence Through Art
Artist Tara Parsons is raising awareness of gun violence in the United States using a non-traditional method. Beginning March 18 through April 19, Parsons opens her exhibit, le petite morte, at Cedar Crest College’s Center for Visual Research, filling the space with more than two thousand balloons representing those that have lost their lives to gun violence.
This participatory project chronicles the shooting deaths in the United States since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in December 2012. Entering the gallery, visitors will be surrounded by clear balloons with a name of a victim inside. Parsons, who is tracking deaths caused by gun violence, said that balloons will be added to the exhibit as the death toll rises.
On April 2, audiences were invited to meet Parsons and participate in the transformation of the gallery, from living floating balloons to lifeless materials scattered around the gallery floor. Each visitor was given a pin and asked to pop a balloon, creating audible representations of gun shots.
"We forget that art often times deals with difficult subjects or tragedies that we as a society do not want to face,” said Brian Wiggins, gallery coordinator at Cedar Crest. “The importance of supporting these artist led gestures is that it demonstrates the fusion of the visual art medium with specific ideas or content. In this instance, it is the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School."
Parsons often includes audiences in her exhibits, making them part of the creation process providing a deeper understanding of her artwork. Her art focuses on installations, sculpture, and hands-on art projects. She has presented participatory projects in DUMBO, Brooklyn; on Governor's Island and in Grand Central Terminal. Parsons has shown her work at Washington Square Windows and White Box Annex in Manhattan, McCaig Welles Gallery and Dam Stuhltrager in Brooklyn, and places further afield such as Rochester Contemporary in Rochester, NY, The Annenberg Center in Philadelphia, PA, Aljira in Newark, NJ, and the Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charite, in Berlin, Germany.
Parsons earned her B.A. from Bard College and an M.F.A. from Pratt Institute. She currently lives and works in Harlem, NY where she has a studio residency with chashama, an organization that converts temporary vacant properties into artist galleries.