Dig It, Hombre: Mexican Artist Turns Drug Guns Into Shovels

Sal holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
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Just some of the 1,527 guns collected by an 'upcycling' Mexican artist. (Photo: Pedro Reyes)

An artist in Culiacan, Mexico—which has the highest rate of gun deaths in the country—has found a way to transform the agents of death into seeds of life.

In 2008, artist Pedro Reyes started running television ads urging locals to exchange their guns for food coupons to be redeemed at local stores.

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Drug guns, moments before flattening. (Photo: Pedro Reyes)

The campaign—Palas Por Pistolas, or “Shovels for Guns"—collected 1,527 guns, which Reyes publicly smashed with a steamroller.

The flattened guns were shipped to a foundry where they were melted.

A hardware factory ultimately forged the gun parts into 1,527 shovelheads.

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Shovelheads made from upcycled drug guns. (Photo: Pedro Reyes)

Since then, Reyes has been distributing the shovels to art institutions and schools in San Francisco, Vancouver, and Paris, where the tools are used to plant trees.

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The finished product. (Photo: Pedro Reyes)

Reyes has long been known as an artist who uncovers the positives in the failures of modern society.

“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,” said Reyes in 2006 to BOMB magazine.

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