Bradley McCallum


Green Bay, WI ::: b. 1966 – New York, NY

Bradley McCallum trained at Virginia Commonwealth University (BFA, 1989) and Yale University (MFA, 1992). McCallum’s installations embody the silenced lives of individuals and the disempowerment of communities. Representational in form yet open to interpretation, his work serves as testimonies on behalf of victims and perpetrators. McCallum creates collective social portraits and works in close collaboration with a team of researchers, assistants, production specialists and the communities to which his work refers. He challenges audiences by activating them in an examination of notions of human rights, democracy and truths about the violence, alienation, and inhumanity that underlie countless aspects of social interaction in present-day society. McCallum is currently the Artist in Residence at the Coalition for the International Criminal Court in New York.

In addition to his solo practice, McCallum is part of the collaborative art duo McCallum & Tarry since 1999. Together they emphasize personal and racial histories to address larger issues of race, justice and social exclusion in the United States. Their collaborative work is often large-scale and site-specific, and relies on civic advocacy to confront and make connections with local communities. Their works range from video, paintings and performance, to sculpture and installations.

The first retrospective of his collaborative work with Jacqueline Tarry, Bearing Witness, was organized by The Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, Maryland (2010). A second survey took place at the Burchfield Penny Center in Buffalo, New York (2012-2013). He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States and abroad including: Quintenz Gallery, Aspen (2014); Galerie Nordine Zidoun, Luxembourg (2012); Nichido Contemporary, Tokyo (2011); Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta (2010); SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe (2010); Prospect 1 Biennale in New Orleans (2008); Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA, Portland (2008) and the Wadsworth Atheneum (1996).


In this live pour, I intend to link performance and object, and bridge my 1996 work The Manhole Cover Project that cast 228 utility cover from 11,194 guns that were confiscated by Connecticut law enforcement to New Orleans’ current effort in transforming weapons into art. During the performance, I will smelt guns taken from the streets of New Orleans along with gun shell casings, and pour this iron-infused brass into a sand-cast impression lifted from the pattern that was used in the Manhole Cover Project. Part alchemy, part historical reference, this transformation and symbolic tracing of a past work aims to remind us that the national conversation around gun violence and ownership has not changed. The object fabricated in this performance will fuse the present with the past — the metal disc made from the impression of the manhole cover pattern will be penetrated with firearms taken from the streets of New Orleans, to create a touch stone that aims to contribute to the civic discourse concerning gun ownership that is active in this local community.

 The epidemic of gun violence that shaped the urban cities in the 1990’s and was a focus of my work for a decade is still active. The mothers who have lost children to gun violence 20 years ago are joined each year in small and large cities alike. Our national policies have not changed and even the most reasonable efforts to enact gun legislation face huge obstacles. Our national attention focuses only momentarily when major tragic acts of violence are in the headlines, but for the thousands of families who have lost loved ones to gun violence and incarceration each year the impact of this public health crises continues to be felt. As artists we can contribute to this essential discourse and to contribute to long overdue change.