Pattern and Guns

"MG08_sledge i" gunpowder, graphite, and goldleaf on paper, 2010, 22x15in

I found a guy online who makes custom pistol grips with baroque patterning.

This is bizarre, but it seems to be common that men decorate their instruments of death. In an attempt to embrace this patterning as a way to romanticize a weapon I have incorporated pattern into my new piece.

The commentary on patterning as a way to dissolve or fracture a space (often  through beauty) is a fascinating outlook that parallels socialized violence and the structure that it inhabits.

Update _ PART II :: The more I present this idea of floral or organic patterning the more references appear… The Victorian era of glorified stag hunts in Europe, baroque art and framing, the patterning found on a dollar bill, the gilded decorations of architecture, and wallpaper/tapestry from all eras. BUT, most importantly for me, the parallel to Illuminated manuscripts with the decorative imagery abstracting the symbols while imbuing them with beauty, obsession, and power.

Update_ PART III :: Strangely enough, I haven’t discussed the feminine aspect. Many weapons have a phallic nature or shape (spears, arrows, rifles, etc…) and I would hazard to guess that more men own and use guns than women ( though I have not researched this). Based on that premise, why would a man decorate his weapon with vines and organic plant patterning? My first thought is that beautification is a balancing attempt. It is a way to focus on life/nature rather than the purpose or intent of the weapon. Maybe it is a belated attempt to square violent death with nature: a way to subconsciously disguise from himself the unnatural power that comes from wielding a gun.

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Ryder in Slippery Rock, PA

Ryder Richards… drawing with fire: lecture and gunpowder demonstration”

Hosted by the Martha Gault Art Society and
the Art Department of
Slippery Rock University
Slippery Rock, PA
April 15-16, 2010

In the video below you can view elements of the lecture to over 120 students and faculty followed by a brief gunpowder art demonstration.

Images from the “Mini-Mud Exhibition” at the Martha Gault Gallery, Slippery Rock University, PA :