Art has an amazing duality; it is deeply personal but at the same time can inspire and engage entire communities.
For painter and sculptor Lin Evola, news reports of children killed by gun violence were deeply personal and sparked a desire to use her art to open everyone’s eyes to the wider violence that plagues our society. In her resulting Peace Angels Project, Evola created incredible sculptures of angels to represent finding “common ground when we disagree, rather than taking up arms against one another.”
The angelic beauty of sculptures is juxtaposed with their medium- metal. But not just any metal. Evola uses metal shredded and melted down by Sims Metal Management, a global leader in metal and electronics recycling and an emerging leader in municipal recycling and renewable energy. The metal used in her art originates from weapons, including guns, knives, decommissioned nuclear stainless steel and land mines.
The seed for the Peace sculptures was planted in the 1990s in California, where she was living. Evola pondered how she could use the power of art to convey the challenge of keeping our children alive in a world where violence is so prevalent.
After two years of exploring and developing the idea she turned to sculpture as the medium that best fit the spiritual story, one that could, “harness the power of art, making it contemporary and giving it the power to lift people up and transform their thinking.”
The project’s first work, the Renaissance Peace Angel, was created in 1997 from bronze with the plaque created from decommissioned nuclear and gun metal. In 2001 it was moved to New York’s Ground Zero, where it served as a beacon of hope for the workers labouring in the grey, acrid haze of the World Trade Center ruins.
In the following days, weeks and months, many workers etched personal inscriptions into the angel’s nuclear stainless steel base. The Peace Angel became such an important symbol of peace and unity to the Ground Zero community. Today it is part of the permanent collection in New York City’s National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
As the Peace Angels Project grew in scope, Sims Metal Management became involved, taking a new angle on our core value of sustainability by shredding the weapons and melting the metal down into molecules that become the angels. The weapons are donated to the project by various law enforcement agencies in the United States via the USA Weapons Destruction Campaign.
Together Evola and Sims Metal Management have repurposed more than 10,000 weapons from objects of destruction to objects of peace.
The project has special meaning for the Sims employees involved. Réal Hamilton-Romeo, Group Director of Corporate Communications, says, “Sims Metal Management specializes in providing resourceful solutions to managing unused metals and electronic equipment to help protect our environment. With this project we are able to use or specialized knowledge to help protect people in the communities where we live and work.”
Evola believes the partnership reinforced her ability to undertake the Peace Angel project purely with no political agenda. She says, “Its mind numbing that it’s taken so long for people to wake up to this epidemic. What I have to offer, in collaboration with Sims Metal Management, is bringing my message and sculptures to communities where violence is a huge issue, and where Sims can shred donated weapons.”
Evola continued, “We can engage the media and ask people to give up their weapons for the project. And it doesn’t matter what kind of weapon it is. Weapons are a symbol of the way human beings are destroying one another. We must remind each other of our inherent greatness.”
In San Francisco another project is in progress focusing on the needles which have helped fuel the local heroin and opioid epidemic.
Future large-scale works will be installed in New York, Los Angeles and the Silicon Valley. The angels are, in their own way spreading their wings as they will depict both male and female figures, and a kinetic globe.
To learn more about the Peace Angels Project and how you can contribute, please visit these monuments visit: www.peaceangels.com.