Art Activism Raises Awareness about Active Shooter Situations


CHAMPAIGN--A University of Illinois professor is turning to art activism to raise awareness about the rise of active shooter situations on college campuses.

"We know what the phrase 'Run, Hide, Fight' means the same way we know 'Stop, Drop and Roll,'" said Guen Montgomery, an art professor at the university.

"Run, Hide, Fight" is what college students across the country, including the U of I, are being told to do if they ever encounter an active shooter.

"It's so close, it's so very close to us," said CJ McCarrick, a graduate student at the university. "And working on, hoping to continue to work on campuses, means that it's very present."

It became very present to Montgomery when she was asked to share that strategy with her students this year. So she used her hands to spell it on a wood carving.

"There's sort of a violence to carving, there's sort of this chiseling and chopping away. And I wanted to come into the gallery space and sort of disturb the space in the same way that I felt disturbed," said Montgomery.

But Montgomery wants her work to leave a lasting impression. She's using her carving to make a print on canvas using gunpowder.

"It started to feel like we were in the middle of some sort of almost a fight, almost a war against some sort of unknown assailant that didn't really seem to have a name, that seemed to be coming from the inside," said Montgomery.

To Montgomery, that idea seemed reminiscent of the Civil War, so she and her assistants wore clothing from that era while working to help onlookers make a connection.

"Trying to balance the two perspectives, trying to understand people's different viewpoints, people's understandings of our violent histories," said Montgomery.

While also trying to promote conversations that will lead to peaceful futures.

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