Bellevue Arts Museum to display the provocative work of acclaimed sculptor Al Farrow in solo exhibition

November 01, 2016
Images: Al Farrow, The Spine and Tooth of Santo Guerro, 2007. Collection of deYoung Museum, San Francisco; Bombed Mosque, 2010; Synagogue (III). Photos all courtesy of Catharine Clark Gallery. Photography by Jock McDonald, John Wilson White, and John Westhafer.

September 28, 2016
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Bellevue, WA—Using guns and ammunition, Al Farrow creates sculptures of reliquaries, cathedrals, synagogues, mosques, mausoleums, and other devotional objects. The surprising inventiveness and the technical tour-de-force of his craftsmanship are highlighted in the upcoming Bellevue Arts Museum exhibition, Divine Ammunition: The Sculpture of Al Farrow. Divine Ammunition will feature more than 20 works by the acclaimed artist—ranging from sizeable religious buildings to relics of Farrow’s fictitious saint, Santo Guerro—drawn from private and public collections. Farrow has had numerous solo exhibitions since 1970 and his work is in many important public and private collections around the world, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the di Rosa Preserve in Napa, and other collections in New York, Germany, Italy, and Hong Kong. Farrow is currently represented by Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco.

The artist denigrates no one belief in his work, being mindful, discriminating, and probing toward all. His striking composite depictions of religious architectural structures are meticulously realized and perfectly scaled. Each work gives new meaning to its materials. Gun-barrel towers and domes built of bullets not only compel the viewer to consider the present, but also recall the history of conflict. The artist's material choices may be jarring, but they also provoke awe and inspire reflection.

By repurposing second-hand firearms and ammunition, Farrow adopts weapons as a medium to illuminate the dark side of various forms of organized religion. With their division of people into saved and damned, brethren or infidels, chosen or forsaken, his mosques, cathedrals, and synagogues are a reminder of how often faith has served as a justification for war. But Farrow's Divine Ammunition goes beyond that, hinting at an essential connection between dogma and death.

In the artists own words
I am perpetually surprised by the historical and continuing partnership of war and religion. The atrocities committed in acts of war absolutely violate every tenet of religion, yet rarely do religious institutions speak against the violations committed in the name of God. Historically, Popes have even offered eternal salvation to those who fought on their behalf (The crusades, etc.).

In my constructed reliquaries, I am playfully employing symbols of war, religion, and death in a facade of architectural beauty and harmony. I have allowed my interests in art history, archeology, and anthropology to influence the work. The sculptures are an ironic play on the medieval cult of the relic, tomb art, and the seductive nature of objects commissioned and historically employed by those seeking position of power.

Divine Ammunition is accompanied by a 112-page color catalogue with essays by Eleanor Heartney and Diana L. Daniels, and a foreword by Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Chris Hedges, author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.

Divine Ammunition: The Sculpture of Al Farrow is organized by Bellevue Arts Museum in collaboration with Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco and Forum Gallery in New York and is curated by Jennifer-Navva Milliken.



Bellevue Arts Museum is a leading destination in the Pacific Northwest to experience art, craft, and design. BAM engages the community through exhibitions, programs, and publications, featuring regional, national, and international artists.