San Francisco-based sculptor Al Farrow uses ammunition and firearms to build astonishing miniature churches, synagogues, and mosques. His religious architecture builds on his exploration of religious history and violence. Farrow’s choice of sculptural materials include deconstructed guns, bullets, glass, steel, bone, and found objects from antiquity, such as a vintage Torah cover and pieces of 16th century Italian velvet. His unsettling juxtaposition of content—symbolic religious structures with weaponry and history-laden found objects—is both visually stunning and emotionally confounding.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Al Farrow has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than forty years. An accomplished sculptor in a wide variety of media, Farrow generally adopts the language of an historical period in his work, updating the imagery or materials to make cogent observations about contemporary society and to reconcile disparate, and on occasion opposing narratives and histories.
This is Farrow’s most ambitious piece to-date. On initial view one is overwhelmed by the exquisitely detailed turquoise and gold mosque, complete with numerous arches and crowned with a shimmering gold onion dome or amrud (guava dome).
On the other side of the structure is evidence of massive destruction. Through deceptively meticulous demolition, the artist exposes a deep chasm in the dome covered in scorch marks and riddled with shrapnel—one can only assume the structure has been bombed.
The monumental sculpture, which took more than a year to create, is made with over 50,000 bullets and shell casings and weighs 780 lbs.