A new art display in West Louisville is using guns to spark conversation about violence.

Hosted by the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, the Imagine Peace Now exhibit transforms guns used in crimes into pieces of art. Firearms have been made into necklaces, embedded into bibles and shaped into skulls and bones.

Kyeland Jackson |

A gun, once used for criminal activity, now sits with skulls etched into it at the Imagine Peace Now exhibit.

Executive Director Aukram Burton said the main goal of the exhibit is to start a conversation on gun violence. That topic is particularly relevant here because the center’s located in the Russell neighborhood – a community dealing with more murder and gun violence than most others in Louisville.

“It really stirs your imagination about this and it really softens the whole conversation about guns,” Burton said. “The whole issue of guns is pervasive in films and TV. When someone is shot, whether it’s a mass shooting in church, or wherever … people are numb to this.”

Kyeland Jackson |

Executive Director Aukram Burton poses next to his favorite part of the exhibit. It’s a peace pipe made out of wood, string, a feather and a pistol.

Louisville’s murder rates have climbed since 2013, peaking at 117 homicides in 2016. Many of those murders involved guns. So far this year, 11 of the city’s 12 murders have involved guns, too.

For some people, Burton said, gun violence has become a blip on the radar. He said education and compassion for people could help stop the violence, and he hopes the exhibit helps prompt conversations about it.

“We need to change the paradigm a little bit and really look at having courageous conversations in our communities about how we’re going to address this,” Burton said. “You can resolve conflict without killing your brother, killing your sister. We can work it out.”

Kyeland Jackson |

A revolver etched into a bible in the exhibit, guarding $200 within.

The exhibit ends March 16.