Turning guns into trees

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 3 p.m. the public is invited to join University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) chancellor Brian Minter and dean of arts Jacqueline Nolte in a ceremonial tree planting, utilizing a work from The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social, an exhibition organized and circulated by The Vancouver Art Gallery. It is currently on view at The Reach Gallery Museum.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 3 p.m. the public is invited to join University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) chancellor Brian Minter and dean of arts Jacqueline Nolte in a ceremonial tree planting, utilizing a work from The Tree:  From the Sublime to the Social, an exhibition organized and circulated by The Vancouver Art Gallery. It is currently on view at The Reach Gallery Museum.

The exhibit provides an exploration of the tree’s significance in art, spanning time, cultures and media. It incorporates historical images of the forest that evoke the grandeur and power of the natural world and includes works by contemporary artists who use the tree as a device to question humankind’s relationship with the natural environment.

The tree planting ceremony is part of the process of a work created by artist Pedro Reyes, Pala por Pistolas, 2007.  With this artwork, Reyes turns the gallery into an “agent of transformation,” and in doing so urges people to turn awareness into action.

Reyes worked with a Mexico City agency to encourage people to hand in their guns and trade them for food stamps. As a result, 1,527 weapons were collected, and 40 per cent of them were high power automatic weapons. These guns were taken to a military zone and crushed by a steamroller in a public act. The pieces were then taken to a foundry and melted. The metal was sent to a hardware factory to produce 1,527 shovels.

These shovels have since been distributed to a number of art institutions and public schools where adults and children engage in the action of planting trees. This ritual has a purpose of showing how an agent of death can become an agent of life. Reyes and the filmmaker Raphael Ortega have documented this process in a five single-channel installation of the same name.

The tree planting takes place at the Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford, 32388 Veterans Way. The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social, will be on view at the Reach until Oct. 9.

For more information on the tree planting ceremony or the exhibition call The Reach at 604-864-8087 x111 or email info@thereach.ca or visit www.thereach.ca

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