Guns and music don’t usually coincide, but Pedro Reyes thought differently.
Reyes is a Mexican artist who recently took about 6,700 guns seized by the government and turned them into musical instruments. Guns from Ciudad Juarez make up Reyes’ project titled “Disarm.” Ciudad Juarez is a Mexican city with about 1.3 million residents that averaged about 10 killings a day at the height of the drug cartel violence, according to an Associated Press article.
“This project has a pacifist intent, to create a global consciousness about arms trafficking,” Reyes said in an Associated Press article.
Reyes manipulated the guns to create an instrument that mimics a xylophone. He also took metal plates and attached them to gun pieces that pinged like a cymbal. Jon Havener, a professor of metalsmithing and jewelry in the Department of Visual Art, said that taking something viewed as negative and violent and juxtaposing it with something as beautiful as music is incredible.
“Art is continually evolving and this is a natural extension of collaboration,” Havener said.
Havener said that Reyes’ didn’t make too bold of a move at all and that he recycled materials for something greater.
Thora Ansell, a sophomore from Houston, works in the photo lab in the Art and Design building. Even though photography is Ansell’s forte she likes to study sculptures and recycled creations.
“People aren’t used to seeing this kind of art–statement art,” Ansell said.
While Ansell admired Reyes’ work, she said that it may not have as positive of a reaction in the country as a whole. She said that there isn’t a rulebook as an artist and they can express their political stances through their work, but how people respond to it is different.
“It’s more than just a pretty painting,” Ansell said.
Narrative works that used recycled materials have been surfacing over the past five years. South African artist Goncalo Mabunda takes bullets and rifles that were used during Mozambique’s civil war and turns them into various sculptures. Korean artist Yong Ho Ji used something a little less violent. Ji takes old tires and turns them into life-size animal sculptures.
Regardless of the material, narrative works using recycled objects have started to evolve.