The message behind the guerrilla art exhibit is to call attention to the potential danger of prescription opioids.
A gallery owner was arrested Friday morning (June 22) after placing a sculpture of a massive steel spoon at the headquarters of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.
Fernando Louis Alvarez was arrested and charged with obstruction of free passage, a criminal misdemeanor. The sculpture was displayed in front of the Stamford, Connecticut office for about two hours until it was hauled away by city workers.
The 800-pound, 10.5-foot-long work of “guerrilla art” appears burnt and bent at the handle, a sight familiar to people who heat up and inject heroin. The artist, Domenic Esposito, of Westwood, Massachusetts, described how his family was affected by his brother Danny’s nearly 14-year addiction to heroin, which began with OxyContin and Percocet.
“My mom would call me in a panic… screaming she found another burnt spoon. This is a story thousands of families go through. He’s lucky to be alive,” he said, according to the Hartford Courant.
“The spoon has always been an albatross for my family. It’s kind of an emotional symbol, a dark symbol for me,” he added.
The message behind the art exhibit is to call attention to the potential danger of prescription opioids, and to call on the federal government to “step in and do something,” Esposito said. Danny has been sober for the last four months.
Purdue Pharma is among several pharmaceutical companies being targeted by lawsuits across cities, counties, and states that believe these entities had a hand in worsening the opioid crisis. Purdue, specifically, is accused of using deceptive marketing and downplaying the risk of addiction to promote OxyContin.
Purdue released a statement on Friday regarding Esposito’s sculpture: “We share the protestors’ concern about the opioid crisis, and respect their right to peacefully express themselves. Purdue is committed to working collaboratively with those affected by this public health crisis on meaningful solutions to help stem the tide of opioid-related overdose deaths.”
The night of the guerrilla art display, Alvarez hosted the opening of a full exhibit on the opioid crisis at his art gallery in Stamford.