Dispatches: Artists Engage the Historical Moment

This summer and fall, as part of a national project called the 50 State Initiative, organized by the For Freedoms Federation, Legion Arts will be spotlighting artists who intentionally engage with the messy world around them, whose artworks invite reflection and discussion ― of values, place, patriotism. This first installment includes gallery works by John Paul Schafer, Sam Watkins, Song Park, Gays Against Guns, and Jave Yoshimoto, as well as films by Brent Watkins and Robert Epstein. Alongside Mel Andringa’s reflections on natural disaster, these artists have trained their eye on gun violence, civil rights, the women’s movement, gay rights, gentrification, war, peace, and the plight of refugees and immigrants.

.223 Caliber Recoil

Decorah artist David Kamm's .223 Caliber Recoil is a powerful series of drawings and objects created in response to Sandy Hook, other school shootings, and the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in America. Says the artist, “In December 2012, Adam Lanza shot to death 20 children, six and seven years of age, along with six adult staff members, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. As horrible as it was, the Sandy Hook massacre was not an aberration, but rather one in an endless series of mass killings and school shootings that have come to characterize life in the United States. I am not anti-gun. For many years I hunted the fields and hills of Northeast Iowa, and as a young boy I was named outstanding rifle student in a hunting class sponsored by the NRA. However, I am very much against gun violence.