By Elizabeth Ladzinski
CHELSEA — Sarah Frost, a St. Louis artist, was researching a new project when she stumbled upon a YouTube video of a boy who used 1,400 pieces of paper to build an M-134 Vulcan: a multi-barrel submachine gun.
Where a parent might have seen danger, Frost saw art.
"From a sculptor's point of view, I found a community of people who discuss forms and interact with each other, which is just fascinating as an artist," Frost said.
The video was just one of dozens made by school-aged boys and posted on the Internet. Using the videos as a guide, Frost took eight months and thousands of pieces of paper to complete "Arsenal," now on show at the P.P.O.W Gallery in Chelsea.
More than 250 paper elements — from pistols to mini-Uzis — are part of her exhibit, and they are made almost entirely out of paper and tape.
And, for the most part, they are functional.
"They shoot paper cones, there are stacks of them at the exhibit," Frost said. Blowtubes are built into the guns to shoot the darts.
Frost was conflicted while creating the pieces, as the young age of the boys is certainly a little unnerving, but the ideas appealed to her as an artist.
"I saw one video at first that really captured my attention because he was so young and yet he knew more about this gun than I did," Frost said.
Frost's exhibit isn't meant to make a statement about gun violence.
The exhibit contains accessories such as ammunition belts and bayonets, and guns with moving parts such as spinning chambers, folding stocks and pump-action barrels. They hang from the ceiling and are stacked in piles throughout the exhibit.
"It was fascinating, the number of video-game inspired guns," Frost said, adding that she believed a few of the assault rifles on display were inspired by the best-selling game "Halo."
Frost has long been interested in found objects, and while this is her first solo New York exhibition, in the past she has created environments from re-purposed discarded objects, such as telephone cords, keyboard keys and appliances.
"Arsenal" will be on display at the P.P.O.W Gallery at 535 West 22nd Street, 3rd Floor, through May 14, 2011.