Transforming Violence

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Can you see guns as works of art?

Their sleek, iron beauty glinting in the light…

…invoking feelings of hope rather than fear?

No?

Well, read on. You may just change your mind.

 

As reported by Al Jazeera, thousands of weapons are seized by L.A. Police every year. In a joint effort between local businesses and the LAPD, these weapons are destroyed, melted down for more productive, less dangerous use in roads, buildings and bridges.

It’s called Project Isaiah, named for the biblical passage which instructs men to “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.”

However, one industrious Mexican artist, Victor Hugo Zayas, has found a new use for confiscated weapons.

Art.

Zayas convinced police to turn over a portion of these confiscated weapons to him for this very purpose. Why? He lost a close friend to a bullet last year, and the experience has propelled Zayas to destroy guns in his own way – by transforming them from arguably lesser weapons of mass destruction into things of beauty.

For Zayas, it is an emotional experience. “The energy transforms from negative to positive,” says Zayas. “That’s quite a beautiful thing to watch.”

Indeed. According to NationMaster’s country comparison crime stats for “Gun Violence: Homicides with Firearms,” the U.S. ranks high on the list at #7 out of 32. And Listverse’s Top Ten Most Dangerous Places on Earth (2008) gives the U.S. a nod, saying: “For the average traveller, the USA is fairly safe, but the numbers do not lie. There are more than 200 million guns in the USA and more than 50 murders a day, 10 times the rate of Germany. The USA now leads all nations in violent [gun] crime and leads all nations with incarcerations now standing at 2.3 million. American citizens also make up the greatest number of criminals serving time in overseas prisons.”

Well-aware of the stats, and moved by personal loss, Victor Hugo Zayas does not plan to limit his transforming artwork to guns.

I would like to ask President Obama if he would give me some of those tanks used in the Iraq war…I will make them into sculptures.”

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Here’s to one citizen’s efforts to transform a nation of violence in his own, small way.

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World News Wednesday

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