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issue 21 - August/September 2014
CURVE magazine cover August/September 2014


David Palmer's Art Brings Out the Big Guns

Viewed in the context of David Palmer's oeuvre, the term "headshot" seems to acquire a new meaning, a bone-chilling one, seeing as the American artist uses bullets to create portraits of iconic figures who were shot dead during various points in time. "Throughout history, art has been used as a weapon of war, so it seemed fitting to take a weapon of war and make it art," he argues. Palmer amasses bullet shells and uses a torch to generate the shadows of lines and furrows seen in the faces. The emitted heat reminds the seasoned artist of purifying strength that is forged by fire while simultaneously illuminating altruistic philosophies and new concepts.

It comes as no surprise then that he's depicted such great men as Abraham Lincoln, John Lennon and Gandhi, each of whom has paid the ultimate price in his effort to bring people together. They are heroes who have fallen, but are not forgotten, ones who have been immortalized by Palmer using a most unlikely medium. 'My hope is that you will feel the emotion attached to the medium and then see the possibility that can arise from choosing to create rather than destroy,' he maintains. It goes without saying that viewing Palmer's artworks is an emotionally charged experience. It is, of course, a mentally engaging one as well, for through his piercing images he stirs ideas about arms, politics, human nature and rebirth. With such intricate, sculpture-like pieces and the impactful notions he references through them, David Palmer is an art provocateur who pulls out the big guns.

The first obvious question is where do you obtain your bullets from?
I have used different sources such as shooting ranges and brass wholesalers. To date, I have used approximately 130,000 casings. The availability of casings has varied depending on what is going on in the media. When there is a high profile shooting there is a tendency for people to horde ammunition. They fear government restrictions and regulations, which would make them hard to obtain.

What (and when) was the very first bullet artwork you created?
The first piece I created was of John Lennon. It was my desire to do a tribute piece honoring him on the 30th anniversary of his senseless slaying, which fell on December 8, 2010. I felt that taking a blatant and emotionally charged tool of violence and making art would be something he might appreciate.

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