A new quilts exhibition explores guns, violence and American gun culture
The latest exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles begins at the box office. Upon purchase of a ticket, guests are not only offered a copy of their receipt, but prior to entering, they are also asked to pick out an empty bullet casing from a glass dish brimming with spent shells.
The weight of a bullet casing seemed insignificant at first, but by the end of viewing "Guns: Loaded Conversations," I found myself turning the shell over and over in my hand as if it were carrying the weight of the nearly 35,000 gun deaths that happen annually in the United States. And that's exactly the point.
While the gun debate takes center stage in the national arena, "Guns: Loaded Conversations" brings the discussion to the local level by asking viewers to consider what role guns should play in a society that's continually challenged by their presence and the right to bear them.
Presented as a collaboration between the Museum of Quilts and Textiles and the Studio Art Quilt Associates—a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art quilt through education—the exhibition has been nearly two years in the making: Amy DiPlacido, curator of exhibitions at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, was first inspired to bring a show about guns to the museum in 2016 shortly after what was then the deadliest mass shooting in America.