Pulitzer Center Update

Worcester Art Museum Pairs "Knights!" Exhibit with Pulitzer Center "Guns without Borders" Photography

Girls dressed as angels pray at a crime scene where a young man was assassinated during what is known as a "heating up of the plaza" by rival drug cartels in Ciudad Juarez. Image by © Louie Palu/ZUMA. Mexico, 2012.

When the Pulitzer Center and Worcester Art Museum (WAM) joined together last spring to combine WAM's Knights! exhibition with the Pulitzer Center's Guns without Borders in Mexico and Central America, the idea was to give audiences greater insight into the real-world ramifications of gun violence. Reviews and feature articles suggest that the unusual collaboration has accomplished that goal.

Kimberly Dunbar of Vitality Magazine wrote: "Lurking behind the happy pink walls in the realm of Good + Evil is a white room filled with dark truths. This room—the Guns Without Borders in Mexico and Central America exhibit—features disturbing images of victims of gun violence in Mexico and Central America. There is blood. There is heartbreak. There is no shortage of emotion."

The Knights! exhibition showcases WAM's recently acquired extensive arms and armor collection, recalling familiar depictions of instruments of warfare seen in art museums, but within an alternative context—the Guns without Borders exhibit. In collaboration with the Pulitzer Center, the museum "presents an alternative narrative, reminding viewers that arms are designed to assault and armor exists to protect our fragile bodies from injury," WAM writes in a summary of the exhibit.

“In our time and age, kids are exposed to an avalanche of images. Violent images are everywhere. A museum is both a retreat from life sometimes, but it can also be a way of helping people embrace life differently. We embrace life with all of its wonderful and terrible realities. The world is not just a dream world,” WAM Director Matthias Waschek said in an interview with Bay State Parent Magazine's Trish Reske.

Outlets that have reviewed the multimedia installation include The New York Times, Vitality Magazine, Worcester Magazine, and Bay State Parent Magazine. The exhibition has also been featured by the Central Massachusetts Convention & Visitors Bureau, Wicked Local Belmont, and What Do U Want to Do?

Walter Bird Jr. of Worcester Magazine noted the photography's thought-provoking imagery. "The images in pictures and as projected on a wall of the room are a jarring welcome to the violence that plagues crime-plagued places such as Guatemala," he wrote.

"The twist in the show’s tale—it comes right after a brief display of carbines and muskets—comes right at the end, where we enter a space that aims to remind us of the real world ramifications of violence," writes The Boston Globe's Sebastian Smee.

The Guns without Borders exhibit runs from March 29-November 9—featuring the work of three Pulitzer Center-supported documentary photographers: 12 projected images by Louie Palu and Carlos Javier Ortiz, and eight chromogenic prints by Dominic Bracco II. Worcester Art Museum's Nancy Burns curated the photo exhibit.

Ortiz, Palu and Bracco offer an intimate exploration of the realities that fuel gun violence in Mexico and Guatemala. In addition to confronting viewers with homicide victims, these photographers also present the families left to mourn the dead, the hospitals who attend to the traumatized, and the children who watch helplessly outside their schools.

WAM's photographic collaboration with the Pulitzer Center is drawing much-needed media attention to these issues. Guns Without Borders is the first in a series of Pulitzer Center photography exhibits that will be paired with WAM's Knights! exhibition.