COBLESKILL, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In 1987, artist Kate Taverna started weaving strands of steel into the shape of children, starting with a lone figure.
“We’ll call her ‘Lisa’,” says Taverna, “because a little kid named Lisa Steinberg got killed by an abusive foster parent.”
Soon “Lisa” was joined by other caricatures on a futuristic playground, date unknown.
“It started growing because kids were being armed throughout the world,” recalls Taverna.
Taverna took her installation around the world as a harsh look at the hardening of children. After a short hiatus, the recent massacre in Uvalde, Texas, caught her attention.
“This country is at war with its own children,” says Taverna. “That’s why I’m bringing these out now because of what’s going on in this country.”
According to “Education Week,” which tracks violent incidents at schools, the attack at Robb Elementary was one of 27 school shootings resulting in injury in the first five months of 2022. Taverna decided to reassemble the sculptures and take them on tour again.
In considering how to pose the figures, Taverna asks this critical question: “What does a kid, who sees another kid killed in front of him, what does that kid live with? There’s a certain defensiveness, paranoia, insecurity.”
She calls the installation “Armor as a State of Mind.” It remains mostly the same — no figure stands taller than four feet, and they’re in various poses depicting motions conveying attacking, defending, helping and competing.
It will be on display starting July 30, 2022, at the Jeff Tufano Gallery in Cobleskill. There is a new addition, however. Several pastel and charcoal drawings focusing on the environment.
“That’s why the rest of the show is about the shells, and the sea, and what we’ve done to the oceans,” says Taverna.
School shootings and climate change are newer concerns, but the impact any threat has on our children remains constant. The shimmer of stainless steel reflecting the present, with rusted metal on some figures pointing to the past.
“Now you get a sense of this isn’t just happening now, it’s been going on forever.”
The exhibit will be open to the public through September 10, 2022. For more information on the installation, visit Kate Taverna’s online gallery. For more information on the Jeff Tufano Gallery, visit the Gallery’s website.