At this time of year, when many people are wishing for peace on Earth – and wondering how they can bring more tranquility and love into their own lives and the lives of all who share this planet – one Mexican artist is making a powerful statement about the type of world he would prefer to live in.

Pedro Reyes lives in the city of Culiacán, which experiences the highest rate of gun-related deaths in Mexico. He believes that failure “is the outcome of a certain perspective,” and that positivity can be found even in the midst of destruction. Much of his artwork revolves around transforming objects that people regard as negative or frightening, and showing how they can be made into constructive tools. This is the exact approach he has taken with discarded guns, asking residents of Culiacán to give him unwanted guns in exchange for a coupon they could use to buy electronics or household appliances. He ended up collecting 1,527 guns as part of the project – called Palas por Pistolas – and what he did with them is truly inspiring.

Reyes melted down the guns and turns them into shovels, which were then used to plant trees in the local community.

 The shovels were distributed to art institutions and public schools, with the aim of planting 1,527 trees.

Reyes said the intention behind Palas por Pistolas was to “show how an agent of death can become an agent of life.”



“If something is dying, becoming rotten and smelly, 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,” he explained. His project has acquired a great deal of positive attention, with some of the shovels making their way to locations such as the Vancouver Art Gallery, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the Maison Rouge in Paris.

It just goes to show that there is always a positive solution available, even for the most seemingly intractable problems of society, if we are willing to think creatively about it and consider – as Reyes said – how to transform the situation into “an agent of life.” To view more of Reyes’ artwork, or find out more about him, visit his website.

All image source: Pocho