By Lindsay McCrum. Used with Permission of The Vendome Press.
In Chicks with Guns, Lindsay McCrum has created a cultural portrait of women gun owners in America through photographs that are both beautiful and in a sense unexpected. The book explores an indelible part of our national identity, but is not thrown off balance by the natural suspicions and political ideology often associated with firearms. It examines issues of self-image and gender through the visual conventions of portraiture and fashion, but guns are presented here not as superimposed props but as the very personal lifestyle accessories of the subjects portrayed. The series defies stereotypes often associated with aspects of the popular culture of both guns and women. Jean-Luc Godard, the French New Wave filmmaker, once said, “All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun,” but there is nothing exploitive, condescending or patronizing about these images.
Because guns and shooting cut across class, age, occupation, background and geography in America, it is an activity that is resolutely democratic. Almost anyone—farmer, rancher, hunter, or town and country shooter—can apply for a license and be a gun owner. For Lindsay McCrum, the artistic representation of this democratic notion is not to seek out the lowest common denominator, but rather to treat each subject equally well. Like the 15 to 20 million women gun owners in this country, the women we meet in Chicks with Guns (their portraits are accompanied by their own words) reside in all regions of the country, come from all levels of society, and participate seriously in diverse shooting activities. The women here are sportswomen, hunters, and competition shooters. Some use guns on their jobs and some for self-defense. They may not all be classically beautiful, but in these photographs they all look beautiful, exuding honesty, confidence, poise, power and pride. They are real women with real guns that play a part in their lives.
In these photographs, Lindsay McCrum has brought the classical visual language of portraiture, encompassing expression, pose, gesture, clothing, accessories, and setting to the natural environment and self-presentation of the subject. The surroundings of the subjects may appear almost painterly but remain true to each person depicted, while the subjects in the foreground are illuminated in a wash of light. The self-styled outfits of the shooters become statements in themselves, reflecting both their individuality and the conventions of their shooting activity. And the guns are iconographic accessories of the American scene. In our culture, the relationship of women with their guns and shooting seems incongruous with the lifestyles and fashion ideals typically associated with women’s identities—as advanced by a slew of women’s magazines and television programs—but Lindsay McCrum has the talent to naturalize her subjects. There is nothing seemingly out of place or inappropriate about the guns in her portraits. By focusing her camera respectfully on this very particular aspect of the American scene, gun-wielding women and girls, Lindsay McCrum sheds new light on who we are in America today.
About The Photographer Lindsay McCrum is a fine art photographer residing in New York City and California. She received her undergraduate degree from Yale University and her Masters of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. Trained as a painter in oils, Lindsay McCrum switched exclusively to portrait photography in 2003. Her photographic projects include 25/50, an exploration of aging in the faces of men; Superheroes and Commandos, a study of boys, costumes and popular culture; and Dress Up, an examination of young girls and the shaping of contemporary notions of fashion and beauty. These series and other work have been exhibited in galleries in the U.S. and Europe. Her website is www.lindsaymccrum.com.
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