Palas Por Pistolas (Shovels For Guns)
Bart Shigeru Uchida
In collaboration with Pedro Reyes
Pedro Reyes’ Palas Por Pistolas (Shovels for Guns) was initially conceived for the Botanical Garden in Culiacán, a city in western Mexico with the highest rate of handgun deaths in the country. Aided by a campaign organized by the Culiacán city government, Reyes collected 1,527 guns from civilians which were melted down to create shovels that, in turn, were used to plant trees in urban areas affected by violence. The shovels have been used to plant trees in Mexico City, Vancouver, and San Francisco in honor of local people killed by guns.
In partnership with Pedro Reyes, Urbano’s 2011 Public Art for Social Change young artists’ collective brought six of Reyes’ Palas to Urbano, and planted a tree in Jamaica Plain’s Stony Brook Park during Spontaneous Celebrations’ Wake Up the Earth Festival, in memory of local young people killed by gun violence in the past year. During the summer of 2011 a group of Urbano’s program alumni worked intensively with acclaimed public artist Bart Shigeru Uchida to further develop Urbano’s partnership with Palas por Pistolas. As part of this ongoing artistic response to young victims of gun violence, they created an interactive environment including sculpture, installation, film, and spoken word performance in Urbano’s gallery. Audience members were invited to add to the piece with their own memories of and tributes to young people affected by violence. After this exhibition, audience contributions became part of a permanent public work on the site of the tree planting in Jamaica Plain’s Stony Brook Park.