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Artist Transforms Weapons of War

Pedro Reyes, an artist from Mexico City, transforms weapons discarded by the Mexican army for his project called "Disarm." So far he has transformed 6,700 guns that were turned in or seized by the army and police into musical instruments. The guns came from Ciudad Juarez, a city of about 1.3 million people that averaged about 10 killings a day at the height of its drug violence. Reyes said that the guns he used are "just the tip of the iceberg of all the weapons that are seized every day and that the army has to destroy." But rather than succumb to the despair, Reyes took the very instruments used for violence and created instruments for music.

Reyes already was known for a 2008 project called "Palas por Pistolas," or "Pistols to Shovels," in which he melted down 1,527 weapons to make the same number of shovels to plant the same number of trees. Reyes stresses that his work "is not just a protest, but a proposal." "To me at least," Reyes says, "the concept is about taking weapons that are destructive in nature and chaotic and trying to make them for something else. So instead of objects of destruction, they become objects of creation." Art, for Reyes, is about transformation. He takes objects of destruction and transforms them into objects of creation. It is not by accident that Reyes' creative work hearkens back to the ancient vision of the prophet Isaiah when on the great day of the Lord "they will hammer their swords into plowshares."

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