Politics tends to divide and break the hearts of many. For Dave Adey, a practicing artist and professor at PLNU, his own heartbreak, rooted in the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, allowed him to produce a beautiful exhibition called There Be Dragons, which opened near La Jolla in early January. Guns became the centerpiece of a creative expedition. After the tragic shooting, he began to educate himself on guns and gun laws.
“When it comes down to it, I wanted to see if there was something art could offer. As a sculptor, it’s pretty easy to go from the intellectual curiosity to a physical curiosity, asking myself ‘What would it feel like? What would it be like to touch and smell it?’ That’s where the idea was developed,” Adey said.
In March of 2018, Adey took to the desert for four days to shoot down an eight-foot-tall block of western red cedar with an AR-15, the same gun used in the Las Vegas shooting. Mia Chandler, a senior graphic design student, attended his show opening and was moved by the work he had completed.
“Dave loves to make people think, and I think he succeeded in doing so. I saw the relevance and felt the impact of his work,” she said.
The opening of his show was well attended, as many of his past and current students came to support him. Jenna Segel, a junior graphic design major, got to aid Adey in the process.
“I only worked for a few hours and was mentally tired afterward. I have a new perspective on the visual arts world! It was interesting to see all of the detailed thought that went into making each piece, from the small detailed wood spires to the careful naming of the pieces to the knowledge that was needed to make it so successful. It was incredible to have the opportunity to get to see what my professor was doing. It has been an amazing experience to see how his excitement a year ago has resulted in this intricate and beautiful show,” Segel said.
A part of his work was combining 3-D printed guns with 3-D prints of his own body. He described it as cutting a box and unfolding it all into one piece. His own 3-D scan was done in the western red cedar wood, contrasting against the bright, manufactured plastic of the gun parts.
“The organic to manufactured contrast serves to show that guns, which are often sexualized, objectified and used as symbols of masculine power and in entertainment are often seen as an extension of humans themselves,” Adey said.
His intention to explore guns through a sculpture was driven by his ability to emote through art.
“The work is not neutral, nor didactic from a particular point of view. Overall, this whole body of work is a lament. I’m not in a position to do something directly. I make art, and art speaks into problems.”