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ECU’s Wellington B. Gray Gallery is the first stop on a national tour of IMAGINE PEACE NOW!, and exhibition of artwork made from disabled guns collected from buy-back programs. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)


ECU hosts opening of national exhibit made from gun buy-back programs

Nov. 21, 2016

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

East Carolina University’s Wellington B. Gray Gallery will host the first stop of a national tour of the IMAGINE PEACE NOW! exhibition Nov. 21 through Jan. 16.

ECU also will be the only stop in North Carolina for the Innovative Merger of Art & Guns to Inspire New Expressions or IMAGINE PEACE NOW! exhibition.

Conceived and curated by Rhode Island artist Boris Bally, the juried show has art pieces made from disabled guns collected from buy-back programs and transformed by almost 100 international artists. The purpose of the artwork is to bring awareness and initiate conversations about gun violence in American culture. 

Pink barrels and bullets highlight this piece in the national IMAGINE PEACE NOW! exhibition at ECU’s School of Art and Design.

Ken Bova is one of the featured ECU faculty members in the show along with Gerald Weckesser, Tim Lazure and Dindy Reich, former faculty members Robert Ebendorf and Joe Muench, and former ECU students Sharon Massey and Heath Wagoner.

Bova, assistant professor of art, said Bally had presented at a past ECU symposium and his connection with the school and Ebendorf in particular made ECU an attractive venue to launch the show.

Bova made a brooch using the tip of a gun barrel that will be exhibited in the show.

Growing up in a hunting and fishing family, Bova had his own .22 rifle at about 8 years old. “I’m no stranger to firearms and was taught (drilled) at an early age the basics of gun safety,” Bova said in his artist statement. “One lesson was never (ever) point a gun at something you don't intend to shoot and never shoot something you don't intend to kill.”

When Bova received a firearm for his art project, he carefully examined the defunct pistol. “It gave me a chill to look directly down the barrel. Despite the fact that it was inoperable it was surprisingly difficult to point it at myself – an action that meant intention to shoot and intention to kill. Everything I was taught screamed against it.”

Ken Bova’s brooch is one of several pieces made by ECU faculty members participating in the show. 

He said he disassembled the firearm but struggled with what to do with the parts to convey his complex concerns with gun violence. “In the end, I wound up using only the very tip of the barrel in this piece,” Bova said. “It was the end of that barrel, staring back at me, that seemed the most powerful part.”
An opening reception for the exhibit will be held 5-8 p.m. on Dec. 2 in Gray Gallery.
Bally will speak on Friday, Jan. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Speight Auditorium as part of the ECU Material Topics Symposium to be held Jan. 13-15.

All programs are free and open to the public.

Gray Gallery and Speight Auditorium are located in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center at Fifth and Jarvis streets. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The gallery is closed during university holidays. Jenkins Fine Arts Center is handicapped accessible. Individuals with disabilities who require accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the Department of Disability Support Services at least two weeks prior to the event at 252-737-1016.

One of more than 90 pieces on display in Gray Gallery from Nov. 21 through Jan. 16.

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