Bob Paris, Associate Professor, Kinetic Imaging


Jessica Soumphontphakdy, Alumnus, Kinetic Imaging
Black Iris Gallery

The children’s guide to weapons

Based on educational apps for toddlers, A Children’s Guide to Weapons is a patriotic and playful phone app turned exhibition that celebrates the American nexus between children, military weapons, and warfare. Amid a cute, comforting design and nursery room music, a teddy bear called “Cupcake” cheerfully invites users to select their “favorite weapon” from a gallery of military weapons.

bob paris nine stickers

The gallery of 24 weapons includes the F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter, the M109A6 Paladin Howitzer, the DSR-50 sniper rifle, and others. The exhibition space operates as a “kiddie’s corner” with bright colors, lollipops that resemble bombers, happy children’s music, and large stuffed-animal versions of Cupcake holding a play machine gun, riding a miniature tank, and so on. With the pull of a string, each cuddly Cupcake offers a fun affirmation of their deadly but adorable weapon.

Paris’ work was supported by a 2016 VCUarts Dean’s Research Grant and reflects his continuing satirical inquiry into weapons, war, civilian casualties, and pop culture, including his web gallery and ongoing blog of related multimedia artworks, The Cluster Project.