Character helps local artist continue social commentary

You think David Butler is going to stop making art that's social commentary just because his newest project, “Gunpowdah,” looks like it could be a comic book or a movie? When Butler formally introduces the character in a pop-up event this Friday, it will merely be shifting the way his art addresses the current culture.

“Gunpowdah is my answer to, ‘How do we talk about state-sanctioned violence without putting real victims in it?'” Butler said of the allegorical hero. “I had to step away. I didn't want any more gut reactions to little boys getting shot.”

Possessed of particular super powers, born when his mother was shot by police while she was pregnant with him, Gunpowdah is, Butler said, a “reluctant, uncertain hero.” The as-yet-unfinished story includes moments in which the character must address his fear of becoming involved.

“Gunpowdah is needed. [It's] something I'm offering as a way for other artists to have a space in the conversation,” Butler said. Four additional quarterly Gunpowdah-related events are planned, in which Butler will explore the character (modeled by dancer Donald Isom) through other media, including film, music and movement.