Floyd Tunson Installation Sparks Larger Gun Violence Project, Black Men at Colorado Springs Museum | Culture & Leisure

Floyd Tunson never thought a work of art he made over 25 years ago would still be so relevant today.

The Manitou Springs-based artist’s “Hearts and Minds” installation, from his “Endangered” series, was created in the mid-1990s in response to gun violence that claimed the life of his youngest brother, Randolph. The 23-year-old was killed by Denver police in 1974.

“It was devastating for me and my family, and our little community,” said Tunson, who grew up in the 50s and 60s in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood.

“It was not just grief, but anger and confusion. When it happens in someone else’s family, it’s not just the family that’s affected, but everyone involved in that person’s life.

He poured his angst into the huge multimedia work, which spans 26 feet wide and 13 feet high, and had to be done in pieces. His images of guns, targets, and young black men address the impact of gun violence on youth of color. Decades later, it’s an issue that still grabs headlines and still feels like deja vu to Tunson.

“I’m angry it’s going on,” he said. “I don’t see it stopping very soon. It is painful to watch it continue to evolve and continue with police killing unarmed young black men. I never thought that at this point in my life I would witness what is happening in our society right now. I don’t know why a black person with any intelligence wouldn’t be angry.

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“Hearts and Minds,” by Floyd D. Tunson, 1993-95, Colorado College Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Multimedia Collection.

Tunson’s installation is on display beginning Friday at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, which acquired the piece in 2020, and will run through July 9.

“It stops you in your tracks. It’s screaming. He makes his message so clear,” said Michael Christiano, CAF Director of Visual Arts and Museum. “Floyd has this magical blend of technical mastery and conceptual weight in this particular work that is of such breadth and detail.”

For Christiano, the piece also sparked a larger idea — using it as a starting point for a larger conversation about gun violence and black men. “Endangered” is a performance-based, multidisciplinary project featuring multiple voices responding to Tunson’s work, including musician Tomás Doncker, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, and videographer William Murray.

The project will run as a video in the galleries for the duration of the exhibition and culminate in two live performances by Tomás Doncker & the True Groove All-Stars on June 17 at FAC and June 18 at CC’s Armstrong Hall. .

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Creative work by CC and Colorado Springs School District 11 students, produced in response to Tunson’s installation, will also be on display.

“I think back to when I did the work and it’s still very relevant with gun violence,” Tunson said. “I wish that weren’t the case. It means we would be in a better place.

Contact the author: 636-0270

Contact the author: 636-0270


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