IMG_0856This poured model represents a very special project I’ve been trying to do for many years now. It addresses the issue of violence in our society and encourages us to consider how we each contribute to the atmosphere of violence. It is not about gun control.

The sculpture itself will be about 12-15 feet tall and will sit in an outdoor circular setting–a place that is easily accessible to foot traffic. The space is designed for those who have lost loved ones to violence, a place of prayer and possible resolution.

As one enters the space there are 3 foot granite cubes stacked haphazardly, giving the initial feeling of chaos, disorganization. The sculpture will be in the center.IMG_0895

There will be benches past this with comfort sayings from different religious traditions. This space will be more comfortable to be in. Naming stones/bricks may be purchased and placed here.IMG_0893

A smaller sculptural piece will be off to the side where people may write notes and deposit them, similar to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. These might be ritually burned on occasion.IMG_0888IMG_0889IMG_0890

From a distance, the sculpture will have smooth flowing lines. It won’t be til one gets right up to it that it becomes evident that it is made of hard angular objects.

001The model was fun to build. I had help from Ron Pederson from Aquinas College. He showed me the basic technique for building the undercarriage with wire and paper and then building up with clay.

ImageThe guns were created by taking toy guns and pouring wax over them and peeling the wax off and affixing to the clay. I bought a handful of guns and kept using them over and over. 004The next step was tricky. We applied a type of plaster mold to the model and when it dried we had to cut it away in spots because of its shape, carefully reassembling the mold afterwards.

I thought that getting the actual guns would be the most challenging part of the operation. In fact, I did spend much time trying to piece this part together. I first sought the sponsorship of a non-profit. The Institute for Global Education generously offered to do this. Having the backing of a well known group seemed like a distinct advantage.

I approached HUD, who at the time was doing by back programs across the country and they were willing to consider it. But I really hit pay dirt with the Michigan State Police in Lansing, Michigan who is commissioned to destroy weapons. I worked out a deal with the head of that department that if I brought in a truck with a welder and paid one of their men to supervise, I could send a welding rod down the barrels of the guns and then haul them away. They would be considered scrap metal at this point. Also, the state police would get credit when the project was completed. That was before 9-11.

This project then went, for various reasons, into the dusty repository of time. It is now time to resurrect it and place it in an appropriate spot which will be well used.

The idea is somewhat controversial, though one wonders how anyone could vote against any project which speaks to the violence of one person to another. I spoke to the Parents of Murdered Children once–by far the toughest group of folks to talk to about this subject. One of the members, whose daughter had been shot, said he was not in favor, and would go to see it once, as he did the Wall in Washington. That conversation gave me a new perspective.

Stay tuned!


About the author

Craig is technically an outsider artist, having no schooling or apprentice training in the arts. His background is in building and remodeling, but always with an artistic approach. This history lends itself to creating art which is also functional. Many of the tables, kitchens and beds he has made are clever and beautiful combinations of the natural edge and graining with specific functionality. He specializes in creating for those who have a specific corner or room in the house which needs attention. Also, he has been making handmade coffins, urns and memorials since the 80's. People often get their coffins ahead of time and store them. Familiar with the laws of Michigan, Craig is able to design and execute anything people want, however, creative or simple.