AMERICA’S WELL-ARMED MILITIAS
CURATED BY CHRISTINA VASSALLO & MEGAN YOUNG, WITH ASSISTANCE FROM KARL ANDERSON
AUGUST 16 - SEPTEMBER 27, 2019
SPACES / CLEVELAND, OH
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
—The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Ratified by Congress in 1791, the Second Amendment empowered state militias and ensured the federal government could not disarm citizens. Since then, the Second Amendment has been challenged from various perspectives, including those who consider a "well-regulated militia" as a states' rights issue and those who see it as guaranteeing the individual’s right to own and carry firearms in expanding circumstances.
America’s Well-Armed Militias examines the entwined histories of American culture, social movements, and gun use. Six artists trace the influence of firearms—from national independence to present day—and consider what compels specific groups of civilians to arm themselves. Through newly commissioned works, participating artists address how the Second Amendment has been interpreted by and applied to different groups of people, and how the forces of rugged individualism, civil rights, border security, economic distress, and self-defense complicate our understanding of this issue.
Recent events have pervaded the yearlong planning process for this exhibition, including the school shooting in Parkland, FL; the bump stock ban in response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas; and a pending Supreme Court case that could set the standard for the handling of all future Second Amendment cases. As the gun control debate continues to unfold we see little value in proselytizing any single opinion through this exhibition, but rather take this opportunity to question how Americans have come to locate themselves within the elasticized boundaries of the Second Amendment.
Matthew Deibel (Cleveland, OH) - Stand-your-ground
Michelle Graves (Chicago, IL) - Firearms in schools
Danté Rodriguez (Cleveland, OH) - U.S./Mexico border militias
Darius Steward (Cleveland, OH) - Black Panthers
Jared Thorne (Columbus, OH) - Gangs
Nikki Woods (Cleveland, OH) - Westward expansion