Up in Arms: A Response to Guns in America

Up in Arms: A Response to Guns in America

BMC alum Jerilea Zempel, an artist-in-residence at Fordham University from 1983 to 2009, lives in Keene Valley, New York. Her work has been shown widely, including the UK’s Canterbury Arts Festival, Diagonale in Antwerp, the Military Museum of Poznan in Poland, and the Sculpture Center in New York City.

“I’ve always been afraid of guns. I’ve never felt comfortable around them, never gotten a thrill out of firing one,” says Jerilea Zempel, explaining her recent work.

 “I am, quite honestly, suspicious of anyone carrying a gun, even policemen and soldiers. They’re symbols of dominance and control. My rebellion against this intimidation has been to wrap guns in everyday materials to disarm and domesticate them.”

Her installation work Shooting Gallery appears at the Brattleboro Musuem & Art Center in Brattleboro, Vermont, through October 23, as part of an exhibit titled “Up in Arms: Taking Stock of Guns.


“Zempel has been wrapping guns in elastics, bandages, flags, camouflage material, condoms, crocheted yarn, and stamps for decades,” says the exhibit’s program.  “The project is her effort to silence guns and render them invisible and even silly. Twenty-three guns (firing pins removed before wrapping) are installed in this exhibit. Each gun acquires a personality—many are silly as intended, but others range from defiant and political to wounded and tenderhearted.”

Here is a project she has proposed to the Mucsarnok contemporary art museum in Budapest.