Artist: Yujia Gu
Media: Multimedia, Photography
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dutzi Gallery
About the Artist
Yujia Gu is a graphic design MFA student at California State Long Beach. Tracing is her final exhibit on campus, and she admitted she is unsure what awaits her after graduation. Three years ago she graduated with a BFA in graphic design from a Chinese university. Her experience growing up in another country allows her a perspective much different on American culture than a native. Her exhibit “Tracing” highlights the tragedy of gun violence in America, and the often overlooked faces of its victims. In speaking to Gu, she mentioned the low rate of gun related crimes in China, and how federal regulation in the US is crucial in order to reduce fatalities here in America. She wanted to make it clear she is not against guns, but rather against them falling into the hands of the wrong people.
Gu’s exhibit involves a lot of light. Both in the projected image of the United States gun statistics and in the images of the students who lost their lives due to gun violence. The viewer is guided through the exhibit by this use of light, keeping the attention always on the subject matter. Multi-mixed media are used, in addition to letter printing on the eastern wall, photography on the northern wall, and interactive screens on the southern wall.
In our interview, Gu confessed that she gained more insight about this hot-button issue by going to a gun range in Los Angeles. For her, the experience was chilling- literally. Apparently they keep the rooms very cold, and the sharp blasts of the guns create an atmosphere that will forever remain in her memory. The concept of “Tracing” for Gu means literally tracing the history of gun violence here in the United States. The western wall showing the chronological order of shootings that occurred just in this year is a representation of this. She wanted to invoke a strong debate about this issue through her art— and I think she did just that. This topic will always be at the center of American politics. The second amendment allows all law-abiding citizens (of age) of this country to hold firearms, but at what cost?
Synthesis / My Experience
Speaking to Gu about the cultural differences between America and China was really interesting to me. It’s really discouraging, however, to think that we, as Americans are perceived as violent people because of this issue. It is a sad reality that we never can know when a shooting will take place and that the government is doing very little to regulate the control of firearms. Especially in this administration, I don’t expect to see a tighter regulation. Events like the recent shooting in San Bernardino will continue to occur, and the faces of the victims will once again be buried in this dark part of American reality.