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

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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."

The prints in this show from the Smith College and University of Texas-Austin-schooled artist are photograms, a process that involves placing any object imaginable on a piece of light-sensitive paper.

"The photogram technique is particularly appropriate for this project...the careful examination and handling of objects implies intimacy and immediacy, which makes the photogram a highly sensual, tactile process," says Tighe.

"I found this mysterious oscillation between presence and absence, real and imaginary, to be an evocative way to explore curious forms as well as symbolic and material presence in the subjects of 'Gunplay.'"

Harlow Tighe's "Gunplay" will be on display from March 16 through April 21 at Beau Mann Gallery at Two1Four, 214 Travis St.. An opening reception is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 17. Admission is free. See the Gallery Two1Four Web site for more information.

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