Stephanie Mercedes, in collaboration with IA&A at Hillyer, hosted an interactive workshop entitled “Bullets to Bells” in Studio Gallery’s garden this past weekend. Inspired by the victims of the 2016 Pulse shooting in Orlando, Mercedes utilizes direct audience participation to create a bell out of melted bullets.
Mercedes begins by setting up her homemade kiln. She explains that a smaller, travel-size kiln works well with her mission, as she often works with families victimized by gun violence. With a smaller kiln, she can create bells in personalized locations, sometimes at the location in which the loved one was lost.
The bullets used were confiscated by DCPD, and were used in violence across the city. Mercedes does not discriminate in terms of what bullets are used, and even the ones in her container tonight have a slight variety. One by one, participants hand their bullets to Mercedes to be placed into tongs and dropped into the preheated crucible. The bullets are heated to 3000 degrees, and after donning thick gloves, Mercedes pours the molten liquid into a mold. The finished product is a bell, with an identical one already polished to be hung in IA&A at Hillyer.
Special thanks to Stephanie Mercedes and IA&A at Hillyer. Photo and video by Tori Swiacki.