A Washington, D.C.-based artist will be making bullets into bells on Friday, Oct. 20, at the University of Lynchburg. The traveling installation, “When do you feel safe?” was created in response to the current crisis of school shootings in the U.S.
The day’s public events will include a bullet melting ceremony at 3 p.m. on the loading dock outside of Dillard Fine Arts Center.
“I will bring a small furnace where participants and the public will be invited to drop bullet casings in, and watch them melt,” said the artist, who prefers the mononym Mercedes. “I will then pour the liquid metal into molds, where the metal will take the shape of a bell.”
She added, “in a world where we all feel the ripple effects of gun violence, it’s important for people to feel like they have the agency to create material change and shifts.”
Following the ceremony, there will be an artist’s reception from 5-7 p.m. at the Daura Museum of Art. A related art installation, “Run, Hide, Fight,” will be on display at the Daura through Thursday, Dec. 7. The exhibit includes bells, videos, sounds, and a response box for students.
The public is invited to attend the bullet melting ceremony, reception, and exhibit. Admission is free.
Mercedes melts down weapons and turns them into musical instruments, installations, and public works of art. She has exhibited and performed at The Bronx Museum, Queens Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center, and the National Gallery of Art.
“When do you feel safe?” is sponsored by the Roger C. Dowdy and Janie Wineman Dowdy Endowment for Initiatives in Peacebuilding through Spirituality and the Arts, the Spiritual Life Center, the Daura Museum of Art, and the Student Government Association.
Mimi Oliver ’22, ’24 MEd, graduate assistant for Peacebuilding through Spirituality and the Arts, said she hopes the installation “will foster meaningful dialogue and create a platform for students to express their emotions and thoughts surrounding gun violence.
“We aim for people to gain a deeper understanding of the complex impact gun violence has on individuals and communities. … [It] will give students a voice in the current crisis of school shootings in this country.
“Throughout the process, students will answer the question ‘When do you feel safe?’ By allowing them to respond to their feelings, we hope to empower them to be part of the solution — whether through advocacy, education, or simply providing a safe space for healing and reflection.”
“We also want to show that tools of destruction can be turned into something beautiful and evocative.”
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