Visual Arts

You Might Be Tempted to Buy a Gun (Or a Photo of One) After Seeing These Images

Guns are affiliated with the National Rifle Association, the American South and...Elton John and Emily Dickinson?? According to visual artist Harlow Tighe, an expat living in Europe, that's exactly the case.

Tighe grew up in South Carolina, where firearms were all over the place -- "on gun racks, belts and tables, in drawers, cars, cabinets and museum-quality vitrines," she says. After living overseas for ten years (she's currently based in Milan, Italy), her perspective on the subject has changed.

"After a decade in Europe, where guns are potent symbols of authority and violence, American gun culture started to look fascinating, even exotic, from an outsider perspective," writes Tighe. "In Italy, handguns for personal defense are neither common nor prolific, and only if you're a member of a certain family might you habitually leave it on the kitchen table.

"The impact of gun imagery, whether conscious or not, runs deep on both continents, but in the United States it has a powerful material and symbolic presence."

Along with her upbringing, Tighe's "Gunplay" exhibit -- scheduled to open on Friday, March 16, at Beau Mann Gallery at Two1Four -- was influenced by icons like Dickinson's "My Life had Stood - a Loaded Gun" poem and John's tune "My Father's Gun."

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen