Stephen Canneto is the artist behind some of Columbus’ famous sculpture exhibits, such as NavStar at the Franklin Park Conservatory, three triangles that appear to bend in the wind like sailing ships, and Quest at the Ohio Department of Education with its three fragments. of metal elevating a rainbow-colored glass sphere.
For his latest project, Canneto is tackling a medium that is quite familiar to him: unarmed and donated firearms.
The First Community Church North campus on Columbus’s Northwest Side, near Hilliard, opened its doors Saturday to those who wanted to anonymously donate their unwanted guns, which Canneto will use to create a sculpture for the church.
“You are taking something that can be destructive in someone’s life or that has been destructive, and you are transforming yourself into something that … brings creativity,” said Tim Vansant, who will officially become Community Justice Minister for First Community Church.
The Church Sure Event is part of the national Guns to Gardens movement, which aims to raise awareness of sensible gun legislation and limit the number of guns in circulation in the country. Guns to Gardens donation events present an opportunity for those who have weapons they don’t know how to store, have suffered trauma or simply no longer need and dispose of them safely and anonymously.
Canneto was selected as an artist based on his connection with Columbus and awareness of gun violence.
Earlier this year, Canneto was commissioned by Broward Health Hospital in Palm Springs, Florida to create a memorial for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School shooting in 2018.
“As a father, as a member of the community, I have an obligation to work on solutions,” Canneto said. “As an artist, I have a voice and it is my duty to use my voice to address issues, especially important ones like gun violence in our society.
Although Vansant had some concerns about low voter turnout, the church received 14 guns Saturday from about 10 different donors and three more from two callers over the weekend. By Monday, the church had received 17 long guns and three pistols.
A visitor, who inherited the weapons from his family, anonymously donated several weapons on Saturday.
“It was always a bit of a concern for them to have them in the house,” Vansant said. “They were finally able, in their own words, to ‘do the right thing’ and deliver it and they no longer became a concern in their home.”
Although the church began planning for safe surrender in the fall, there have been numerous mass shootings in the United States since then, including the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New State. York. There have also been numerous fatal shootings locally, including inside a shoe shop at Tuttle Mall and a shooting in a Hilltop park that resulted in the death of a young woman and two injured teenagers, including the suspected man. armed 15 years in the deadly shooting of the woman.
Read more: Tuttle Mall 911 Call: “He hit me with a bag,” alleged shooter says on victim
“We’re providing a service to individuals, and it’s great, but we also realize it’s not a big chunk of the arms supply here in central Ohio,” Vansant said. “On top of that, we want to have … a faith-based response that says we are in favor of sensible gun legislation and the removal of some of these things that can cause harm.”
Vansant partnered with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a movement that advocates for the prevention of gun violence across the country, and God Before Guns, a Cleveland-based organization that has hosted similar gun donation events in the past. , to accommodate a safe and effective weapon drop off on site.
Donors entered the church parking lot with unloaded weapons in the trunk of their vehicles. Trained volunteers removed the guns from the vehicles and checked they were manageable before handing them over to Canneto, who used a saw to cut the weapons at a public demonstration.
“We wanted it to happen here in person, and that can be cathartic for some,” Vansant said.
Canneto exhibited two of his previous sculptures, Pray for Peace and Peace to Pieces, both made with donated and deconstructed firearms. Both sculptures will be on display at the First Community Church South campus at 1320 Cambridge Blvd.
“I am not advocating removing guns from the hands of people who have them for legitimate purposes,” Canneto said, “but I am advocating removing guns from those who cause harm to themselves and others.”
With the donated guns, Canneto and Vansant have an initial idea to create another piece depicting a toy box overflowing with gun parts.
This year marked the first national performance of the Guns to Gardens movement, and Vansant said this won’t be the last time you’ll see the church surrender.
“It’s a good reminder of the kind of work we’re trying to do here,” Vansant said. “This is a place where we step into the community and we will try to influence change.”