Wk 11 – Artist Conversation – Yujia Gu

Exhibition Information

Artist: Yujia Gu
Exhibition: Tracing Gun Violence in the USA
Media: Multimedia, Glass, Vinyl
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dutzi Gallery
Website: yujiagu.squarespace.com

About the Artist

Yujia Gu is a graphic design student at CSULB. This is her last year and she will be graduating with a BFA. She wants to be a publisher in a newspaper in the future, but she’s unsure if she wants to pursue that career here or in China, where she grew up. She initially attended college in China for graphic design, before staying in New York 5 years ago for three months, and then eventually moving to the West coast. Her interest in art started at an early age when she started drawing. Besides drawing, Yujia also enjoys photography, films, and going to museums.

Formal Analysis

The gallery uses different forms of multimedia and wall vinyl art to clearly portray its message. There are two TV screens comparing the number of gun violence between the US and other countries. You can learn more about it by listening to the explanation using the headphones provided. A large piece of glass hung from the wall is covered with the faces of children who were killed by gun violence. A large map of the US is projected onto a wall to show all the cities where gun violence has occurred in the US. At the bottom of the wall across the whole room is a red vinyl male stick-figure used to present all the people killed in the US as compared to those killed in Canada, in black. Covering another wall is the statement ” People are buying guns to protect themselves from more and more people who are buying guns…” repeated over and over using vinyl and emoticons to present “people” and “guns.”

Content Analysis

The message Yujia’s exhibit is trying to convey is made clear: gun violence is a serious issue and it needs to end. When she told her mother that she was going to the US, she was always warned to be careful because so many international students have died due to gun violence. Upon doing her own research, she was shocked to find out how common it is in the US compared to other countries, and how little has changed to stop it. She sees the issue as a vicious cycle of people buying guns to protect themselves, but only causing more problems and adding on to the danger. She hopes that her exhibit will inform people about this issue and encourage people to understand the need for proper gun control. “The less guns, the less violence.”

Synthesis / My Experience

I found myself uncomfortable upon entering this exhibit. The cold, hard numbers and statistics only matched the cold, hard truth of the realities of gun violence. Her use of the stick-figure man to paint and emphasize all the lives lost was difficult to ignore. It made you look at such a difficult subject and carry the true weight of it in your conscience. Her exhibit wasn’t trying to paint something beautiful, but to uncover what was underneath our blissful ignorance and expose the ugly truth. Gun violence is a serious issue – it’s a shame that I had to be trained at work and be warned at school to know what to do in case a mass shooting happens. As adults taught me while I was growing up: fighting fire with fire never solves anything, so it baffles me that they don’t feel this way about gunfire.

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