‘Art Is My Weapon’ exhibit renews awareness about unsolved murder

Art Is My Weapon exhibit renews awareness about unsolved murder

Art Is My Weapon exhibit renews awareness about unsolved murder

Addressing gun violence through expressing its impact: That’s the role of ongoing exhibit “Art Is My Weapon” at the Minneapolis Central Library.

Some of the art was made with decommissioned weapons; other pieces were portraits of those lost to gun violence, the sight of which stirred up strong emotion and renewed awareness about one unsolved case in particular.

KG Wilson stood by a painting of his 6-year-old granddaughter on Sunday, unable to leave her side.

“It was like she was here waiting for me,” Wilson said. “Like, watching all of the people, but watching the door, waiting for me to come through.”

The painting “Sweet Baby” was of young Aniya Allen, a child caught in the crossfire. Allen was riding home in the car with her mom when she became an unintended target. A gunshot to the head took her life.

“I’m trying to go around and look at other stuff,” Wilson continued. “But I’m stuck. Like, I feel like I gotta tell her, ‘I’ll be right back.'”

Her story fit a central theme at the library gallery.

“There’s work in here from over the last seven years,” said Nikki McComb, owner of “Art Is My Weapon.

The nonprofit started acquiring decommissioned guns in 2016, McComb said, and placed them in the hands of artists.

“We did a buyback. We got a bunch of weapons off the street,” she said. “I want people to come in here and see that our community is suffering, right? And there’s a creative way for people who really just don’t get it to see and understand.”

“We are literally one fool away from someone walking in this room and doing something crazy. That’s the reality,” Minneapolis abstract artist Sean Garrison said, speaking to the room. “Imagine being a kid.”

Before Allen’s death, Wilson was front and center in the city’s fight against gun violence.

“I’m still hurt. I’m still angry, sad that it’s still going on,” he said.

Nearly two years later, a memorial for Allen where she died, at 36th and Penn avenues, has withered some. The painting “Sweet Baby” was a renewed reminder.

“This is a form of healing. This is a form of these people that I haven’t met before saying, ‘We were thinking about you,'” Wilson said. “It’s not justice, but it’s a form of healing.”

Allen never left her mind, “Sweet Baby” artist Laura Kruchten said.

“I don’t think that there’s anything that you can tell a parent or a grandparent that’s going to make them feel better, and I just felt like I needed to do this for them,” she continued. “I needed to paint her, and she just has the most beautiful spirit.”

“I just wish they had put her story here just to let people know this is Aniya Allen, murdered in our community. She has not had her justice,” said Lisa Clemons, founder of A Mother’s Love Initiative.

Wilson was still hopeful police will find out who took his granddaughter’s life.

“And they’re gonna have to be tired of me because we’re going to continue to fight. We’re going to continue to fight for justice, and I believe it’s on its way,” Wilson said.