Mexican Artist Turns 1,527 Guns Into Shovels To Plant Trees

Can you imagine a world with no guns? Can you imagine our planet if all firearms were suddenly wiped off?

Well, I know one thing for sure, it would definitely be a better place to live. Weapons are terrifying indeed, causing the death of millions of people worldwide every year.

Yet, a Mexican artist showed the world that perspective is everything. Pedro Reyes decided to convert weapons into something useful.

He stated:

“If something is dying, I think there is a chance to make a compost in which this vast catalog of solutions can be mixed in an entirely new way. An agent of death can become an agent of life.”

In 2008, in Culiacán, one of Western Mexico’s cities with the highest rate of gun deaths, he launched a project called Palas por Pistolas (Shovels for Pistols) and asked residents to give their weapons away in exchange for a coupon that could be used to purchase electronic devices or appliances.

His politically charged work points out the need to end violence and the use of illegal weapons in Mexico.

Reyes believes in positive perspectives, not “failures”, and maintains that failure is only the result of a certain perspective. Therefore, he decided to transform objects that are considered frightening and negative into constructive tools.

Pedro Reyes with one of the gun-made shovels.

He managed to collect 1,527 guns, all of which were sent to a military base and publicly crushed with a steamroller, melted and turned into 1,527 shovelheads.

What’s more, these shovels were then distributed all around Mexico for residents to use them to plant trees. Some of them were displayed in exhibitions around the world, in places like Vancouver Art Gallery, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the Maison Rouge in Paris.

The lesson this project taught us is that a single change in perspective can make a huge change and make bad things good.

Reyes stated:

“My work aims to show how death can be turned into life”.

The artist has also transformed guns seized by the government into musical instruments, to point out that “music is the exact opposite of weapons”.

He wrote:

“ I have taken guns seized by police in Ciudad Juárez and turned them into musical instruments: guitars, drums, marimbas and so on. I think about Disarm as a form of exorcism, expelling a demon that has overtaken the body. In the United States, demons of war and violence possess the social body. “

He added:

“A cultural rejection of weapons as an industry must come about if we want to see real change in the prevalence of guns. Investing money in a company that makes weapons should be regarded as dirty—a sin.

If you are investing in weapons, you are fueling death and suffering around the world. It should be a responsibility for everyone on earth to go on a crusade against guns.”

We couldn’t agree more!