San Francisco, CA
Using guns and ammunition, Al Farrow creates sculptures of reliquaries, cathedrals, synagogues, mosques, mausoleums, and other devotional objects. The surprising inventiveness and the technical tour-de-force of his craftsmanship are highlighted in this exhibition of works drawn from private and public collections. The artist denigrates no one belief in his work, being mindful, discriminating, and probing toward all. His striking composite depictions of religious architectural structures are meticulously realized and perfectly scaled. Each work gives new meaning to its materials. Gun-barrel towers and domes built of bullets not only compel the viewer to consider the present, but also recall the history of conflict. The artist's material choices may be jarring, but they also provoke awe and inspire reflection.
By repurposing second-hand firearms and ammunition, Farrow adopts weapons as a medium to illuminate the dark side of various forms of organized religion. With their division of people into saved and damned, brethren or infidels, chosen or forsaken, his mosques, cathedrals, and synagogues are a reminder of how often faith has served as a justification for war. But Farrow's Divine Ammunition goes beyond that, hinting at an essential connection between dogma and death.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, the exhibition catalog, Al Farrow: Wrath & Reverence, explores Farrow's visually stunning, emotionally unsettling sculptures of religious architecture, ritual objects and reliquaries. Meticulously crafted from deconstructed guns, bullets, glass and steel, they are at once seductive and confounding. This is visual art that stimulates a cascade of thought and feeling, just as Al Farrow, a sculptor in all media for forty years, experienced on a trip to Italy fifteen years ago when he was confronted with a reliquary containing the remains of an ancient Saint. He saw a light then that has since illuminated his unique exploration of religious history and violence, of luminous beauty and harsh truth, of peace, progress and brutality.
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