Some people are able to use drawing, photography, or some related medium to capture and convey a single idea. You know people like this, and while they are proficient, natural ability alone does not create compelling art; an additional sensibility is required. Often, what distinguishes the artist from a generally talented individual is the ability to express, within a single work, multiple perspectives and conflicting ideas. The work of an artist can evoke initial responses and impressions that are then underscored or questioned or entirely subverted upon further analysis and reflection. McCrow is one such artist.
An artistic approach to the controversial issue of assault rifles, with talent but without nuance, might focus on the danger of these weapon, on the sense of power they impart or the violence wrought with them. McCrow's multifaceted presentation of AK-47s encompasses these perspectives, but he goes deeper. The sharp wit and provocative insight in each of his pieces challenge you to explore your own attitude toward the weapons. How you feel and what you think when viewing his work is as much a part of each piece as the paint and metal. It is meant to engage and provoke.
Perhaps his work that best epitomizes this is "TOY GUN": an AK-47 that was removed from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, now painted candy-apple red and emblazoned with "MATTEL" on the magazine and "Fisher Price" on the barrel jacket. Your first impression is that this is a toy; it is clean and unthreatening, suggesting a host of toys that line store shelves. However, this feeling is undercut by the reality that it is an actual weapon. In fact, the artificiality of the toy somehow sharpens the harshness of this realization. This is an AK-47.
You are then confronted with the unavoidable suggestion that, even though it is not a toy, this gun may well have been used by a child soldier, recruited for combat. There are no easy resolutions drawn from here. Beyond the jarring synthesis of childhood play with brutal violence and its pointed observation of the way in which toy guns are disconnected from their real-life counterparts, the work also acknowledges the psychological damage done to a child wielding this weapon. As McCrow puts it, "the violence and abuse that can surround a weapon may not always be forward of the trigger."
The other works in this series function in a similar way, acknowledging and exposing the complexity of our relationship with assault rifles. Examining the AK-47 through various lenses, including safety, wealth, revolution, and the environment, these pieces build their resonance from our internal dissonance; they hold a mirror up to the often sanitized and contradictory views we have of these weapons and demand that we broaden our perspective.