TNC Archive 2018
The Peace Angels Project
How One Women Is Fighting Against Weapon Violence Through Art
The Peace Angels Project is a major public arts endeavour that focuses on creating sculptures to promote peace and fight against violence. Lin Evola, American contemporary artist and the project’s founder creates angel monuments out of melted street weapons in efforts to fight against violence and promote peace.
Hi Lin, thank you for talking to The New Current, how is everything going?
Thank you for asking, all is well.
You are currently working on city-sized Peace Angels, which will be 64 feet tall, what does it mean for you to be bringing your vision to life in this way?
The first Peace Angels were created from 1993 to 1997 and 2010 to 2012. The 64-foot monuments are at various stages of progression. Awareness building, of which you are a part, has begun with a request for destroyed weapons through law enforcement (since 1997) and promotion of peace through the media (also begun in 1997).
How important a role can artists play in the public discourse on social issues such as gun crime?
Artists are visionaries. Our job description is to sense the visceral nerve of a society at a given time and to reflect it back through signs and signals to the rest of humanity. The "Swords to Ploughshares" paradigm is as old as humanity itself. Artists would always choose what is right for them to create. At its purest sense, which is the most powerful and effective, the artist needs to source it from themselves. If the weapons issue is important, the artist will create from that. Gun crime, as you put it, is very specific. If this issue is important to an artist, then, yes, pick it up. For me, the weapons issue is imperative because it is what we use to kill each other. Artists have a true opportunity to choose an issue and bring it into physical reality. That is very powerful.
Should more artists do more to tackle the social issues we face?
There is no "should" here. What do I think? I believe that artists are powerful if they choose to hone their talents and source their beliefs in a powerful way. Otherwise, gallery or decorative art is just feel good. What looks good over someone's couch, doesn't interest me. So, yes, I have a high standard for being a true artist, and I would love to see artists tackle social issues, but it isn't for every artist, obviously.
"I found out in the LA Times that 1,000 children had been killed the year prior by guns and other weapons."
Can you tell me a little but about the Peace Angels Project, how did it all come about?
The Peace Angels Project came out of my deep love for my son and my awareness of the life-stopping heartache of the families that are left behind when a child is killed. I had left my home in San Francisco and moved to Los Angeles where my son had been born. I found out in the LA Times that 1,000 children had been killed the year prior by guns and other weapons. It cracked me open. Once I knew this, the art deepened.
I had spent my entire life being an artist, focusing on drawing and painting and being a part of the conceptual art movement in the 1970's in San Francisco. I began to write the Peace Angels Project on November 3, 1997 in Los Angeles as a vehicle to move violence into nonviolence through the conceptual and physical creation of art.
What did you want to say with The Peace Angels Project?
I wanted to say then, and I will continue to say now, that human beings have an intrinsic greatness, but it is our choice to choose that.
Art is a major influencer, it records where we are, but can take us somewhere else by inspiration.
What have been some of the challenges you've faced putting the project together?
In bringing art together with modern production, historic production, contemporary weapons and contemporary technology combined with unique funding, has been, in combination, at times, daunting. At this juncture, I am satisfied that each second that I spent on the Peace Angels Project has been a worthy one.
Was it easy to get over these challenges?
Not at all. Everything in life is a process. A big part of the process has been my own consciousness. I knew some of the issues at the initiation of the Peace Angels Project, but my own courage and self-determination is always the most challenging. Who are you when no one agrees with you? Who are you when you are threatened or other difficulties occur? Who are you when people who you love die?
The Peace Angels Project has already gained great international acclaim, did you ever envision that your project would be so well received?
We have in front of us, the next mountain. I feel that every step has been important to get to where we are now. Because of the founding work that I did and our team accomplished, we are beginning the USA Weapons Destruction Campaign with a mandate of taking a million weapons off of the streets of the United States of America. We have three monuments in various stages of process: Silicon Valley/ San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York. I am also looking at my birth place, Chicago.
With this plan in motion, I will consider other countries. The Peace Angels Project was written to address post conflict situations where the collective is eager to build a new life and prosper in a rich environment for its community.
What was the experience like for you to unveil the 'Spirit of Africa' Peace Angel in Johannesburg?
I am such a fan of Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I have studied conflict resolution as an appreciator. Not everyone knows that Desmond Tutu and his constituents saved their country by bringing together perpetrators and families of the victims to bridge the gap between hatred and revenge to forgiveness. The Truth and Reconciliation Board did just that for about two years after a horrible time of apartheid in South Africa. So, for me, to have Desmond Tutu unveil the Spirit of Africa at the Premiere Museum in Johannesburg (Joberg Park Museum) was a great honour. So, to witness the unveiling was very moving to me. It meant, and still does mean, a great deal to me.
What more do you think we can do to tackle gun violence around the world?
Laws have to change, conversations have to be had but the most important thing is for us to honour each other and respect human life. Violence should not be an option. Moving through solutions to our challenges is a human possibility.
How much has your approach to the art you create changed since you started out?
Since I was two years old, I have been drawing. I still draw almost every day. The capacity to draw and paint is with me like oxygen to my lungs. What has developed is my knowledge of production and technology to create the sculptures and the ‘sputtered’ art (destroying weapons to the molecular level). That has developed. My love of art has remained the same. Art is my first language.
Finally, what do you want people to take away from the Peace Angels Project?
I want people to take away from the Peace Angels Project from now until future generations walk the earth, that we have in our hands the ability to make a world at peace, to prosper in all ways and to build a world that is a productive part of our universe.
We are all accountable to each other in this world, for it is within the power of each of us to rise up and declare that we will no longer tolerate the destruction of our families and of our nations. It is the very unity of this voice and the diligence of our actions that will give us the courage to be strong and to forever hold ourselves and one another as sacred. Let each Peace Angel stand as a constant reminder of our unshaken resolve to change the course of human history.