Things That Matter

Mexican Artist Transforms 1,527 Deadly Guns Into Life-Giving Shovels To Plant Trees

A Mexican artist and activist embarked on a project to gather as many firearms as he could from Culiacán, Mexico, the city with the highest death by gun violence rate in Mexico, and transform them into shovels that would instead plant trees. Artist Pedro Reyes, a Mexico City native, has long been using his art to illustrate how evil can be transformed into good, with the right perspective. While the United States has, by far, the highest number of firearms per capita (120.5 per 100 persons), Mexico ranks 60th in the world. Pedro Reyes wanted to do his part in getting the deadly weapons off the street.

Reyes set out in Culiacán, Mexico, to trade civilian’s weapons for coupons for electronics, and residents traded 1,527 weapons.

Pedro Reyes’s project, known as “Palas por Pistolas” publicized the gun exchange on television ads and through local media.

Credit: bintazd / Instagram

 All of this was made possible by the botanical garden of Culiacán, which has been commissioning artists to perform social impact interventions for years. Reyes made a proposal to the garden to organize a city-wide campaign for a voluntary donation of weapons. The commission was able to pay for television advertisements and liaise with local media to promote the project. Soon, the whole city knew that residents were invited to give up their guns in exchange for a coupon. Those coupons were then traded at a local store in exchange for domestic appliances and electronics.

Of the 1,527 weapons collected, 40 percent were automatic weapons, “exclusively” used for the military.

Credit: molaaart / Instagram

The second phase of the project was put on public display. All 1,527 guns were taken to a military zone and were crushed by a steamroller in a public act. Then, the pieces were taken to a foundry and melted down to its original form. Once again, the same metal that was transformed into guns became a ‘blank page,’ available to transform into absolutely anything. Reyes worked with a major hardware factory to create molds that would create exactly 1,527 shovels. 

Since they’ve been repurposed, 1,527 trees have been planted.

Credit: molaaart / Instagram

The shovels have been on display at a variety of art institutions. Admirers could read an inscription of the shovel’s origin story on the handle. Later, children and adults alike would feel the weight of what was once a gun in their hands as they dug up dirt to plant new life. Trees have been planted at the Vancouver Art Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute, Paris’s Maison Rouge, Lyon Biennial, Marfa, Texas, and Denver, Colorado.

“This ritual has a pedagogical purpose of showing how an agent of death can become an agent of life,” Reyes said of the project. 

Credit: botanicocln / Instagram

Like every other Reyes project to date, the gift is a change in perspective. For whoever might have been injured or died at the hands of those 1,527 guns, as many trees have been planted in their honor. Reyes breaks down the concept of a gun to what it is: human intention and scrap metal. With a simple shift in intention, that metal has created lasting memories for children and created oxygen-giving life on this planet.  

Since “Palas por Pistolas,” Reyes has also installed “Imagine,” a similar concept that instead turns guns into musical instruments.

Credit: Pedro Reyes

In April 2012, Reyes was given the opportunity to transform human intention once again. “I got a call from the government who had learned about Palas por Pistolas,” Reyes said. “They told me a public destruction of weapons was to take place in Ciudad Juarez and asked me if I was interested in keeping the metal, which would otherwise have been buried as usual. I accepted the material but I wanted to do something new this time. 6700 weapons, cut into parts and rendered useless, were given to me and I set out to make them into instruments.”

“A group of 6 musicians worked for 2 weeks shoulder-to-shoulder turning these agents of death into instruments of life.”

Credit: Pedro Reyes

Reyes said it was far more challenging than simply turning the metal into shovels. The metal had to create sounds. “It’s difficult to explain but the transformation was more than physical,” Reyes writes. “It’s important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons; as if a sort of exorcism was taking place the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost.”

Living in a community free of guns ought to be a human right. Many liberties that we enjoy today were considered utopian, and the first step taken into that direction was to Imagine.” Reyes continues to draw attention not only to where guns are used, but where they are made. It is an industry and one he continues to reclaim for life.

READ: Mexicans Are Questioning Their Government’s Decision To Release El Chapo’s Son After A Massive Gun Battle

Someone Claims That They Discovered A Long-Lost Frida Kahlo Painting But Experts Don’t Agree

Things That Matter

Someone Claims That They Discovered A Long-Lost Frida Kahlo Painting But Experts Don’t Agree

Frida Kahlo - La Mesa Herida - The wounded Table - Der verwundete Tisch / YouTube

Frida Kahlo is one of the most iconic artists in global history. The Mexican artist was known for blazing her own path both in art and in society. One of her most famous paintings “The Wounded Table” has been missing for 65 years but one art dealer claims he found it.

A Spanish art dealer claims to have found a long-lost Frida Kahlo painting.

Kahlo painted “The Wounded Table” in 1940 and over the years it disappeared. It is unknown if it was returned to Moscow, was lost, or destroyed. All that is known is that Kahlo’s largest painting to that date is gone.

Cristian López Márquez, a little known art dealer in Spain, claims to have found the long-lost and highly sought after painting. According to La Voz de Galicia, the art dealers claims to have acquired the painting from some who settled in Spain from Mexico.

The painting is one of Kahlo’s most famous works of art.

The decades-long mystery about where the painting ended up does add to the allure of the claim. However, people are not convinced that the painting is a fake that is being peddled by someone who is after money by selling an inauthentic painting. To make matters more skeptical, the art dealer has very few details but is adamant about its authenticity.

“Time will give us the truth,” Márquez told AP. “Whoever proves genuine interest and the ability to pay the figure of 40 million euros, can spend as much time as wanted with their experts analyzing the work.”

Despite Márquez’s claims, art historians are very skeptical that the painting is true.

Márquez claims to have the painting safe in a warehouse in London. He has put the painting on sale asking for $45 million. No one seems to be biting but Márquez continues to say the painting is an original.

READ: Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul Is Celebrating Her 113th Birthday With A Week Full Of Digital Events

Mexico Closes Border With Arizona To Keep Americans Out Following COVID-19 Outbreak

Things That Matter

Mexico Closes Border With Arizona To Keep Americans Out Following COVID-19 Outbreak

John Moore / Getty Images

Mexico is taking measures to protect its citizens from the rapidly spreading COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. Parts of the Mexico-U.S. border was closed in Arizona by Mexican authorities in response to the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19.

It started when the state of Sonora toughened border restrictions as Arizona’s COVID-19 number skyrocketed.

Arizona is facing one of the toughest COVID-19 surges in the country. Numbers are spiking across the U.S. following the rapid, and in some states sudden, reopenings. Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona are all reporting numbers that have health experts concerned about the outlook of the U.S.’s ability to control the virus.

“We are all going to be on alert at this time to prevent them from coming, whether they are Mexicans living in the U.S., Americans or those who want to come to spend the weekend and put a greater burden on us regarding COVID,” Sonora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich told the Arizona Daily Star.

Some Mexican citizens took it upon themselves to block Americans from entering their country.

Mexican residents along the Arizona border created makeshift blockades to keep Americans from flooding popular beach destinations. Mexican citizens used their cars and other objects to block Americans as the state governments backed their actions.

“We invite US tourists not to visit Mexico,” Sonoyta’s mayor, José Ramos Arzate, said in a statement. “We agreed on this to safeguard the health of our community in the face of an accelerated rate of Covid-19 contagion in the neighboring state of Arizona.”

Sonoyta is a U.S.-Mexico border town with roads that lead to Puerto Peñasco, a beach town on the Sea of Cortés. Mexicans are fighting to protect their own health as the U.S. continues to let the COVID-19 crisis get worse.

The United States has been setting daily records as COVID-19 infections continue to spread out of control. Health experts are warning that the U.S. is still in the first wave of the virus since the first wave never ended. The lack of containment has led to countries banning American tourists because the virus is still not under control.

There are things we can do to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Health experts suggest wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and being diligent about hygiene to slow the spread of the virus. Stay safe and stay healthy.

READ: Gay Man Dubbed Karen For Saying He Wants Everyone To Catch COVID In IG Video