I want to preface this story with a few facts about myself.
I am an artist who grew up in a big city and I strongly believe in peace. I do not condone violence in anyway shape or form. I do not own a gun, but I do enjoy the smell of gun powder. I remain a vegetarian/ vegan by choice since childhood I do not claim membership to any political party. I am not a member of any religion. I consider my race to be that of the human and I strongly believe in individuality and personal freedom.
…The gun. The gun is a very powerful symbol and taboo to many liberal minded people living in big cities like myself. A current topic of strong rhetoric spewing from the lips of every political figure on the US stage. It is nothing new, but once again, gun violence is a big issue in America.
For me, growing up in Brooklyn, New York, in the nineties was no different. Things could and often did turn violent.
My personal fascination and utilization of the gun within the context of my work is explained simply by the fact that my own family fell prey to gun violence. There was a home invasion which I was witness to one morning soon after I finished high school. Both of my parents were shot. My father survived. My mother did not.
I often and almost always armed myself with at least a knife when I ventured out onto the city streets and subterranean passageways. It wasn't a matter of right or wrong. It was just a fact of life. It's what I felt I had to do to protect myself and trust me it certainly came in handy. This isn't how I picture a perfect world. We did not make up the law of nature, but if the choice was to kill as opposed to be killed, I would choose the former.
Through this personal catastrophe, my life obviously changed forever but it by no means defines who I am. It certainly is a part of who I am. There is no doubt about that. To myself I felt I had two choices in regards to the gun. Either I was to vehemently oppose the gun or I would completely embrace it as a tool of creation. In turn, mastering its power and mystique. A reclamation.
And so I commenced to using guns in my artwork and clothing designs. First it was imagery then I moved on to using actual guns firing actual bullets into my clothing. The garments were distressed by filling them full of bullet holes and powder burns. A gun is a tool much like a hammer. You can use it to smash or you can use it to build. Creation is destruction and vice versa. Using a gun as a tool of creation through destructive force is a catharsis for me. Knowing how to operate a firearm is a useful skill and I find joy in honing it. It also makes for a good story.
When the idea of using guns to distress clothing came to me I knew I needed help, especially since I didn't have any and I knew very little about guns beyond what I had seen in movies. It came to my attention that a friend of mine who is a respected artist also had a collection of guns. Upon informing him of my gun distressing idea he gladly offered up the usage of his sizable collection, which he obtained as soon as he had moved to the US from Russia. When I looked at the AK 47's , shotguns, Beretta's, Glock 9's ,45's etc. the first thing that came to me was to ask him, Why? Without missing a beat he turned to me and said, "Because slaves are not allowed to own guns."