Arts preview: 'Social Commentary through Art and Media'

Jim Fischer
Robert Buck's "Thirteen Shooters"

These are chilling times. The news cycle more often than not includes stories of gun violence. The litany of incidents can make the issue more complicated to process, and often what passes for dialogue can be every bit as difficult.

But it's a necessary dialogue, and artists in the community can help provide a foundation, through their art, for the kind of conversation that can begin to effect social change.

This process provides the backdrop for the July 30 program at Pizzuti Collection, "Social Commentary through Art and Media: A Conversation with Community Leaders on Gun Violence." The event will not only discuss the power of artists and art to drive dialogue about social and cultural challenges, but also foster a timely discussion about gun violence.

Panelists Suzanne Roberts, president and CEO of both Unifying Solutions and Women Generating; James A. White Sr., president of Performance Consulting Services, and Sierra Austin, director of leadership and inclusion programs at YWCA Columbus, will lead the program, which is set against the backdrop of the Pizzuti Collection's current exhibition, "Robert Beck | Robert Buck: States of America."

The artist's work - installations, video, drawings, sculpture and pieces with paint on fabric -deals with a range of often interrelated topics, including early childhood development, psychology, gun violence, the American West, religion and more, and the way in which we as a society respond to these issues. Indeed, the July 30 program will be held in the gallery that houses Buck's "Thirteen Shooters," a collection of oversized images of young people who have perpetrated mass shootings in the U.S.

"My approach is to think of art as a teaching tool," Austin said. "To discuss how to be critical of social structures, and to have a critical conversation about gun violence, about media stories mediated by race and to serve as a method by which we can achieve understanding."

"The biggest thing is for the community to know that the Collection is a safe place to have these conversations," said Education and Outreach Coordinator for Pizzuti Collection David Butler, "and to provide access to thought-provoking art and have the discourse that art engages."

"I've been in the gallery and seen the work. When I walked into the gallery, I had a visceral and traumatic response [to the art]," Austin said. "My thought is to not make the program overly structured, but to just open a dialogue and allow for the most authentic responses.

"We're forced to process what happens in our mind when we're presented with this type of thought-provoking art."

Pizzuti Collection

2-4 p.m. Saturday,

July 30

632 N. Park St.,

Short North

pizzuticollection.org