Skip to main content

‘American Dream’ Examines Fear and Paranoia of Violence

Exhibition prompts viewers to consider the visual culture of cities, media and more

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Multidisciplinary artist Dominic Sansone’s latest work explores the violence of humankind and the role individuals play in facilitating an endless cycle of barbarity.

Twenty-four of his sculptures are featured in his month-long solo exhibition at Northwestern University’s Dittmar Memorial Gallery, located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston campus.

“American Dream: God, Guns & Drones,” Feb. 13-March 18, investigates how fear and paranoia of violence has shaped the collective consciousness of the United States. Sansone’s show focuses on the overwhelming presence of violence in the U. S. and abroad.

The works in “American Dream” question how desensitization has given way to apathy and fascination with violence by drawing attention to the dangers and peculiarities of living in a society that profits and thrives on violence and bloodshed. 

“Americans, in particular, have seemingly become addicted to the state of war, in part, due to our desensitization at the hands of the media we consume,” Sansone said. “From video games glorifying killing, to 24-hour coverage of conflicts, to real time video of smart bombs dropping down chimneys, we have an endless supply of stimuli to numb ourselves. The pain and suffering endured by others becomes nothing more than flickering images on a screen.”

Sansone’s goals are “to cause the viewer to consider, with more than a cursory glance, the visual culture of our cities, our entertainment, our public art and our media.”

“This interest is partially driven by my exposure to assembly line manufacturing as part of my previous professional careers and has been further developed by the ever-increasing complexity and investigation into mold making that my practice has produced,” Sansone said.

On display at the Dittmar is a urethane foam and steel handgun, titled “LYH 207,” that is five times larger than an old toy handgun that the artist used to brandish as a child. It is one of 13 handgun sculptures, all with different titles, but in the same format. Another piece he created last year is titled “Childhood Memory No. 120384.” It is comprised of seven stacked gas masks made of Ultracal 30 (a low-absorption gypsum cement for case molds) that are perched atop a 16-gallon steel drum.

Much of his work is autobiographical and based on personal experiences or memories.

Sansone works and lives in St. Charles, Ill. He also teaches classes in metal sculpture at the Evanston Art Center that focus on welding and fabrication of sculpture or functional objects made from steel. This fall, Sansone will be heading to California for his solo exhibition in Los Angeles. For more on the artist, visit

For more information on the Dittmar Gallery, email or visit

Back to top