January 29, 2016
May 08, 2016
Honolulu Museum of Art
At first encounter, the large works in Honolulu artist Deborah G. Nehmad’s installation WASTED appear to be abstract triptych tapestries. Upon closer examination, however, the patterns of holes and stitches convey a powerful, poignant symbolism, functioning as catalogues of tragedy.
WASTED gradually reveals that nothing has changed in terms of gun violence in the United States over the past decade. The burned holes in wasted represent the number of children killed by guns in 2003 (left panel), 2004 (center panel) and 2005 (right panel). The holes in wasted (ii) represent the number of adults killed in the same years. Wasted (iii) records the annual average of gun fatalities from 2009 to 2013. The stitched red crosses represent homicides, the black x’s suicides and the burned holes left bare are accidents or of unknown intent. Casualties by police intervention are stitched over in red and black.
Using woodblocks that were burned during the process of creating the wasted pieces, Nehmad inked and rubbed the surface of the blocks to develop the series of printed works titled black and blue. The constellation of blue dots represents victims caught in the crosshairs of gun violence over the last 10 years.
While all artists want their work to be discussed, Nehmad has a greater mission—the possibility that viewers will talk about the issues involved, with the hope that there will be change in the future.
See Deborah G. Nehmad give a gallery talk on her exhibition WASTED.