Student shares reflections in ‘Firearm Fossils’ exhibit at botanic garden

Stephanie Olmedo

On the western end of CSUN’s Botanic Garden, where trees shield you from the sounds of people walking by and singing birds block out the noise of the construction site, is the art exhibit “Firearm Fossils.”

The exhibit consists of 10 pieces of concrete imprinted with images of guns. All the art pieces are different shapes and sizes to give them an authentic fossil look.

Upon walking into the garden you don’t quite know what you’re looking for. There are no arrows pointing you in the right direction, but as you keep walking you know you’ve reached the exhibit when you come upon a viewer discretion sign.

The pieces are relatively small, so there is a need to keep your eyes glued to the ground so you don’t miss them.

The artist, CSUN art graduate student Libby Gerber, says that she decided to use the topic of guns in her exhibit because of the gun violence that has plagued school campuses.

According to Gerber, there are those who don’t feel comfortable with her art containing images of guns. “Some people feel it’s not appropriate to have on a school campus because of school violence,” she said.

Gerber did not use real guns in the making of her art. She used toy guns, but people who don’t know anything about guns, the imprints may be mistaken for real guns.

“I find it interesting that people give these guns to their kids. Toy guns that look so real,” she said.

What is important of Gerber’s work is not the gun used to make the image. Gerber said, “In my work there are no guns, it’s the absence of the gun, it’s the evidence that guns were once there.”

Gerber said what she hopes to portray through the worn look of the fossils is that one day gun violence on campus will be a thing of the past. Gerber compares it to finding dinosaur fossils.

Gerber’s art should not be mistaken for anti-gun propaganda.

“I’ve never thought about guns as violent and loud, but the image of guns are just everywhere,” she said.

The exhibit will hopefully make people think twice about their stance on gun control. It is an effort to get people talking and discussing the presence of guns in our society.

The materials and the look of the art is not extravagant, if anything, the pieces look like any other rock you would find if you were walking in the wilderness.

It is through this simplicity that the viewer is forced to focus on the symbolism of the image rather than the look of the image.

Gerber offers viewers a small notebook at the entrance of the garden so that they can share their opinions with her. She hopes that this will start discussions.

Gerber, who graduated from Occidental College, with her undergraduate studies in visual arts, said that she enjoyed working on this exhibit because it gave her a chance to work with the biology department.

“This being my first year at CSUN, I enjoyed getting out of the studio and working with another department,” she said.

The exhibit will be featured at the Botanic Garden until Feb. 14. The botanic garden is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m..