QUEERY: Stephanie Mercedes
Like many great artists, Stephanie Mercedes stands out because she thinks of things that don’t occur to average folks.
For her piece “The Ring of Freedom,” Mercedes (the name she goes by) bought a Sig Sauer MCX rifle — the same kind used in the Orlando, Fla., Pulse nightclub 2016 massacre — and melted it, using the aluminum to make 49 liberty bells to represent the 49 victims.
“I wanted to make liberty bells because in Latin America, culture bells and chimes are rung to bring back and pay tribute to the dead,” she says. “The NRA also uses the Liberty Bell as a symbol for its organization. This to me, seemed highly symbolic of everything that is currently wrong with gun control in the United States.”
Mercedes, a Halcyon Arts Fellow (Halcyon is a D.C.-based art/social enterprise collective), is one of the artists featured in the inaugural By the People Festival which runs June 21-24 in Washington and is billed as a “four-day extravaganza with interactive visual art installations, performances ranging from ballet to go-go, speakers and an augmented reality art hunt.”