Finding Softness in the Steel: Project Pistols showing at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art
Posted 7/24/2012 1:40:00 PM
The 701 Center for Contemporary Art
is currently featuring John Acorn: Project Pistols
until Aug. 12. This premier presentation of Acorn’s latest body of work includes large multimedia pieces comprised of benign-looking guns carved out of wood.
The ideas behind many of the works are simple. In many cases Acorn just thought that it would be interesting to take an object that seemed threatening and discover what types of softer images he could create. When I chatted with him at the exhibit’s opening, his eyes lit up as if making the pieces was the fun of a boy’s garage project. He told me that the idea for each piece came from everyday things. The “charm bracelet” that stretched across the middle of the gallery space occurred to him when he bought a real one for his granddaughter and thought, “This is great, I want one of these!” So naturally he went to work in his studio to make one that was larger than life.
The idea for “Lifesavers” came from a stop at an intersection. Acorn pulled his car behind a truck that had a bumper sticker saying “Guns Save Lives.” One can almost see the small chuckle spread across his face as he envisioned a pack of Lifesavers candy made out of his wooden pistols. The lesson here? That literal thinkers can be creative, too!
One of the most eye-catching works in the exhibit is his quilt that includes 50 squares of fabric. The first time you pass the piece you don’t notice that there is a pistol in the center of each square, but as you begin to notice, the pistols become the focus of the work. Acorn found it interesting to take a quilt — something that is common and comforting — and adding a pieces to it that are commonly used in the south for hunting or protection.
John Acorn is a retired Clemson
professor who taught art and design at the College of Architecture. In the 15 years since he left teaching he has been busy working and showing around the state. To see his work while it is in Columbia
visit 701CCA, a wonderful place to learn about Columbia’s (and South Carolina’s) vibrant contemporary art scene in one of the city’s grandly repurposed historic sites, the historic 701 Whaley building