Art installation “Locked and Loaded” on display at Eberhard Center

Jacob Creswell

Art installation “Locked and Loaded,” on display at Eberhard Center

Jacob Creswell

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Ohio-based artist and retired veteran Kimberly Walker has created an exhibit titled “Locked and Loaded,” which is currently being showcased at the Eberhard Center at Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus for Art Prize 10.

The exhibit consists of 46 military issue duffel bags stacked on top of each other and spray painted with the names and ranks of 43 women who were victims in undocumented sexual assault cases and murders. Walker described the piece as being an “art activist” piece.

Walker’s inspiration for the piece were the stories of 46 undocumented sexual assault and murder within the military. These cases were officially in the books as suicide, but that these women did not actually kill themselves. 

The miscarriage of justice for these women ignited a flame in Walker and inspired her to honor and represent the victims. 

“We’ve got to start dealing with (assault) problems instead of putting them under the rug,” Walker said. “Since I’ve done this piece, I have to keep this ball rolling, I have to help people.”

In honor of the installation, Walker spoke at Eberhard Center about her transition from life as a solider to life as an artist. 

“I wanted to work like I worked in the military,” Walker said during the open panel. “I wanted to make a difference.” 

Walker also said that painting has helped her manage and reduce the symptoms of her depression, finding a new purpose within activist art.

“I found this story and it gave me purpose,” Walker said.

Walker went on to talk about how she considered multiple different types of military equipment. She wanted to use what she had on hand. Eventually, Walker said, “all I had in my mind was ‘duffel bag.’”

Throughout the presentation at Eberhard Center, Walker also touched on what being at Art Prize meant to her. 

“The strong women I’ve met along the way (are) why I am at Art Prize,” Walker said. “I think some people it might trigger, but some people I hope it’ll make them say, ‘wow… what can I do to help?’”

Walker explained how she hoped “Locked and Loaded” will help bring light to undocumented sexual assault cases and inspire others to take action. She also said that she hopes it will inspire others to be creative and use art to express themselves. Especially given the nature of the work, Walker said it takes a certain gusto to create daring art and withstand backlash.

“I might get some push-back, but I can take it,” Walker said. “I’m definitely not trying to profit from anything.”

When asked about what was next for her, Walker said she is not done with these 46 women. She has considered contacting the families of the women in an effort to expand her outreach.

Looking toward potentially creating a follow-up piece, Walker said that her main plan is to focus on her love of social art. Whatever she decides to create, Walker said that themes such as scale, repetition and eye-catching art is key to strong social art.

“I can’t do clean art and I like that, I like getting messy,” Walker said. “What I love is social art… it’s all I can do for the rest of my life.”

Walker’s installation “Locked and Loaded,” is on exhibit on the grounds of the L.V Eberhard Center throughout the duration of ArtPrize 10 from Sept. 19 to Oct. 7.