Portraits Dot Portraits Dot Deweaponizing the Gun Dot Press Dot Contact Walt Creel

All works 48x72 inches, 2003-2008
Paint and Bullet holes in Aluminum

The terms gun and weapon are practically interchangeable. From hunting to war, self defense to target practice, the gun has been a symbol of power and destruction. Art and entertainment have both taken the same approach to the gun. Traveling Wild West shows had gunslingers that shot crude silhouettes and names, but this was done to illustrate the shooters prowess. Some artists have used high speed film to capture a bullet slicing through its target, while other artists have melted guns into sculptures.

When I decided I wanted to make art using a gun, I was not sure what direction I would have to take. I knew I did not want to use it simply as an accent to work I was doing, but as the focus. My main goal was to take the destructive power away from the gun. To manipulate the gun into a tool of creation and use it in a way that removed it from its original purpose, to deweaponize it.

During my first experiment I came across the concept of creating an image hole by hole on a surface. I also figured out that canvas would be too stressed by the process of a rifle firing many bullets into it. I moved on to aluminum and, with further experimentation, I figured out exactly how far apart my shots needed to be and that moving beyond .22 caliber was simply too destructive. When the aluminum was painted beforehand, the blast of the gun knocked off a tiny amount of paint around each hole, which helped fuse the image together.

click for larger image.

Flag over Fort Sumter, April 1861
38x56 inches, 2012
Paint and Bullet holes in Aluminum

This is a replica of the Flag that flew over Fort Sumter April 12-13, 1861 when the confederates attacked US forces, starting the American Civil War. The flag survived the battle and went on to tour the North. It was used to boost morale and raise funds for the Union war effort. It came to be seen as a symbol of the strength of the Union, even when the flag itself is in the direct line of fire. This flag, like the original, is full of bullet holes and is covered in burnt gunpowder.