Guns. No doubt a controversial topic. When I saw the proof of this issue, with a gun on the cover, I reacted in fear. Instantly I worried about the reaction a cover like this one would get. Then, with additional artillery throughout the interior pages, I thought maybe it was too much. The subject of guns is so polarizing—one side would criticize us for condoning the use of guns; the other side would criticize us for our commentary against guns.
I feared how readers would react. And fear is the very reason that I publish this magazine. Writing and sharing true stories helps us face the fears we have about who we are. We fear we that others will judge us and not accept us—and our stories, our past experiences, are a huge part of that. But by sharing our stories we defy that fear and challenge it by seeing what really happens when we reveal a part of ourselves. Reading Gale Hart’s artist statement helped me to see that by creating sculptures of guns she challenges fear. She draws our attention to the complexity of the issue and asks the question: Why is there such an obsession with these devices? And the over-sized proportion of the sculptures makes a statement about the many ways guns can dominate our lives.
The more I thought about this art, the more I had to ask myself the question: What is the purpose of art? Is it not to generate conversation? Is it not to draw our attention to a subject or issue in a way that makes us think? I was definitely doing a lot of thinking as a result of this artwork. And there was my answer: I had to publish it. If the artwork in this issue makes you uncomfortable, I would challenge you to ask yourself, why? And then write about it. Perhaps you will end up with a piece that you should send our way, and we can have an ongoing conversation about art and its purpose right here in the pages of Under the Gum Tree. I would love nothing more than to see a conversation sparked because of something we publish.
In this issue you will also find our usual lineup of feature-length nonfiction as well as our shorter departments: Fork & Spoon all about food; Sound Track all about music; Stomping Ground all about growing up; Flash all about short-shorts; and 24 Frames A Second all about film. 24 Frames is a department near to my heart because I am married to a film buff (er, snob) and he has taught me so much about the storytelling medium. For instance, the name of this department comes from the fact that in film there are twenty-four frames in each second; that is how quickly the images move. It’s also a department for which we don’t get a lot of submissions and I wonder if that is because many people don’t quite understand what we are looking for. It is not a department for film reviews or criticism. Rather, it is a department for stories about how film and movies affect our life—because it is such a powerful story-telling medium, I am curious to know how stories presented visually change us, challenge us, cause us to grow. Not all films do this, of course, just like not all novels or short stories cause us to stop and examine our life choices. But there is often one film, just as there is often one book, that stays with us. Why does it stay with us? That is the question I set out to explore with the stories we publish in 24 Frames.
You’ll see that we have a 24 Frames story this issue, and I hope to continue to include it each issue—but that means we need submissions for it. So if there is a film that has stayed with you over the years, why not use writing to explore the question: Why has it stayed with you? And then send it to us—you never know, your story just may cause someone else to gain a new perspective. After all, that is why we write and share our stories, isn’t it?
I hope the art and stories in this issue affect you in some way, and maybe even cause you to see things differently. And if they do, please take time to share your experience with the magazine by passing it along to someone else, or by posting about it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or your social media channel of choice. We are still a small operation, growing, and every little bit of love from you helps a great deal. Thank you!
Here’s to telling stories without shame,
Janna Marlies Maron