As mediums go, guns rarely figure into an artist's tools, but for Alabama-based Walton Creel they have become the weapon of choice for creating thought-provoking art. CH caught up with Creel to learn more about his series, "Deweaponizing the Gun."
Growing up surrounded by the powerful weapon, Creel bought his first gun in his teens—a mini-14, the gun used by the A-Team—which he first put to use while on a date with his girlfriend. â€œHere, guns seem to be woven into the fabric of southern society," he explains. Wanting to explore more about the gun culture that seemed to permeate his life and many others who use guns recreationally throughout the U.S., Creel set out to "incorporate guns into a project that could speak to that.â€
His work, created by shooting bullets into reinforced aluminum and generating a patterned silhouette effect, Creel admits the process drained him, "I started off just going into the woods with canvas, then realized I needed a stronger material." Taking nearly a full year to develop his current technique and the resulting first piece (an image of a deer) Creel took time off before continuing to work on the remaining pieces of his series.
Completing his project two years later, Creel's collection of works challenges popular opinion about the purpose of guns and their ability for uses in a positive light—not surprisingly their reception has been mixed.
â€œWhatever view a person already holds on guns is the view they project onto me. If they love guns and think gun ownership is a God-given right, then they see my work as reinforcement of that view. If they think guns should be banned, they see my work as an ironic protest.â€