When you walk in the door of the ArtRage Gallery in Syracuse, the first thing you see is a collection of porcelain baby shoes hanging from the ceiling. The sculpture is just one of many pieces in the gallery’s current exhibit called "Deadlocked and Loaded: Disarming America" curated by Karen Gutfreund.
"As you walk up to them, you notice they're all fractured and broken. There's 28 pairs, and what they symbolize is there are 28 children killed by gun violence every week."
Gutfreund says the thinking and planning behind the exhibit has been in the works for awhile. She says it was originally inspired by the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012.
"What we;re looking for is how gun violence and gun issues affect primarily women, children, and marginalized voices. After all the incidents of the summer, with the murder of George Floyd, it started moprhing into much more into marginalized voices and the violence toward them."
Gutfreund says most people are shaken by the exhibit, but in a good way. Gallery director Rose Viviano says there’s a common reaction.
"You feel very off balance because it's beautiful and its horrifying. They have both feelings swirling around inside of them. But I think that's what good art is supposed to do to you."
The exhibit features 52 works from 35 artists who self-identify as women. Gutfreund says in other so-called white cube galleries and museums, the artwork is created mainly by white men.
"Most people don't know that most museum collections are 85 percent men and 87 percent white. I've also dedicated my curatorial career not only to issues of social justice, but promoting women artists.”
With the recent mass shooting in Atlanta, Gutfruend notes that the exhibit also examines toxic masculinity and its sometimes-violent nature.
"It's just heart breaking with what happened with the shooting of the Asian women. This is something we need to address. Instead of focusing on what did the women do or what should they do, let's start addressing...let's teach our boys better.”
“Deadlocked and Loaded” runs through Sunday, April 18th. It can be seen in person by appointment at 505 Hawley Ave, or virtually on their website.