Artist: Yujia Gu
Exhibition: Tracing Gun Violence in the USA
Media: Mixed media
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dutzi Gallery
Yujia Gu is a CSULB graduate student who is working toward her MFA in the School of Art’s Graphic Design. Yujia is from China and she is a third year at CSULB. Some of Yujia’s interests include shopping, listening to music, and going to various museums. Some of the ideas that her work explores is the focus on having more control of the usage of guns, and the effects of gun violence in terms of the many school shootings in the United States.
Formal Analysis: In terms of the formal qualities of the exhibit, it features materials and media such as the videos that are projected on the wall and television screens, a LED display, headphones, and a large plastic poster that features various photos of children. In terms of the graphic design media of the exhibit, there is images on the walls of people going across the bottom of the whole exhibit. There is also a large image that features figures of people, guns, and words in black put together in the shape of a gun. The colors in the exhibit that are shown are black, white and red. The only shapes that are shown in the exhibit are the black and red figures at the bottom, the figures that make up the giant gun on the wall, and the shape of the USA that would appear on the wall from the projector. On one side of the wall there is also the list of some of the names of the children who lost their lives in some of these shootings. The exhibit also featured videos of the various locations where shootings had occurred, specifically shootings that involved children. Their is rhythm in the piece in the way it is organized neatly and each unique piece of exhibit seems to flow nicely with the main idea of the exhibit. In terms of texture, one texture that stands out is the plastic poster that is hanging in the exhibit.
Content Analysis: In terms of the ideas behind the exhibit, it focuses on the intense reality of mass shootings in the United States. As I spoke with Yujia, she discussed that she focused on shootings involving children because people seem to have a stronger impact on the dangers of guns when it involves children. This is key to understanding the ideas behind the exhibit because Yujia wants to emphasize how dramatic these shootings truly are. She is from China, and when she came here her mother was hearing how international students were being killed. And because of these news stories she was scared for Yujia living in the United States. These conversations with her mother about her safety and the shootings is where Yujia drew inspiration for this exhibit. In the exhibit, there is a feature with various figures across the exhibit from Canada and another line of figures from the United States, and the only one that goes around is the one from the United States. This likely represents how more people are killed in the U.S compared to another country such as Canada. The videos that she displays and the photos of the children also provide the message on how these shootings happen in various spaces with different children whose lives are lost too soon. The LED Display also provides more emphasis back to the idea on how often these shootings occur by providing the date of the most recent shootings and the amount of people that were killed. Yujia also features one of the conversations that her mother had with her in Chinese with a English translation by Yujia herself. Her mother speaks about the dangers she sees in the United States and how she is worried for Yujia. I believe that with this part of the exhibit she demonstrates her idea that gun violence is truly dangerous and abundant to the point that her mother is constantly worried about her. For this exhibit, Yujia wanted to make it clear how many shootings there have actually been in the United States, and how society needs to take in these events and have stronger gun control to reduce the shootings that occur every day.
Synthesis/ My Experience: In terms of the exhibit as a whole and how it resonated with me, I honestly felt that it relates closely to my life because of where I work. I work in a afterschool program with elementary school kids. When I stepped into the exhibit it hit me pretty hard especially the images of the children and the fast paced video of all the locations of the shootings and once again the children. It almost made me cry knowing that these shootings happen at random and that it takes away innocent lives. I saw the children in this exhibit, and it made terrified knowing that it could happen at my school. I wanted to push the idea from my mind, but the scary reality is that many of the locations where these shootings happen which is presented in Yujia’s exhibit do occur in California. I know that these situations do occur because of people possessing guns, and this exhibit goes along with my perspective and opinion that their should be higher gun control to prevent tragedies like this to reoccur on constant basis.