My husband, Waller, has been an artist his entire life, but made the decision to pursue it professionally in 2008. Our family wholeheartedly supported this decision and sold our home in Louisville and left town in pursuit of advanced art degrees in Chicago and St. Louis. A year ago, we moved back home to Louisville for him to begin his career and to be closer to our immediate family.
I give you this background as I think it’s helpful to understand the timeline and context that led to Waller’s performance this past Friday at the Tim Faulkner Gallery. As all the articles describe, Waller was forced to postpone a solo show originally scheduled a few weeks ago as a result of my injuries. But even more importantly, he was forced to re-evaluate the work he does.
When I arrived home from the hospital on Tuesday, September 11, I was immediately surrounded by new caregivers who could give Waller a bit of a reprieve and allow him to transition back to his therapy - art.
His work to date is largely subversive and humorous. His original show was to be both those things. Humor. There is very little room for humor when you are personally pulled into the nightmare that is a mass shooting. Humor is not an emotion Waller currently possesses, and he needed to change his show to reflect his current state of mind.
While I expect you visit this website for a myriad of reasons, I believe the number one reason to be: you feel compelled to end the senseless gun violence occurring in our great country. And while I will primarily stick to the WhitneyStrong Foundation and my progress through these blogs, I have to recognize the power of Friday’s show and its contribution to our mission.
Through the news clip from WAVE3 in Louisville, KY, you can get a sense for the show and the performance. In summary, the previous show was completely changed, and the new concept resulted in paintings and boxes scattered across the gallery floor. To address our new normal, Waller recreated colorful replicas (made of Crayola crayon, his preferred medium) of the 9 mm Taurus handgun and bullets that were used on me and others on September 6.
The performance. While I cannot do the performance justice with my words, I can tell you that participants felt (likely for the first time) a sense of what it must be like to be involved in a mass shooting. And it was a raw and powerful display of emotion from my husband.
Waller and I will continue to take unconventional steps to compel others to take action. We have to disrupt the inertia that keeps you from actively participating in this fight.
I couldn’t be more proud of this show and his performance. And if you’re uncomfortable with what you saw, please support the WhitneyStrong Foundation in whatever way seems natural for you.