“Watching with us this past week was Lin Evola, the founder of the Peace Angels Project which (among other things) has mastered the art of reuse – in this case transforming the metal from used weaponry into compelling and hopeful images. While she was with us, Lin took copious notes which she turned into drawings that represented the vast disturbances of the week, the crises we have yet to resolve.
The central focus of the drawing Lin contributed to Global Action was of people – including young people — standing mostly emotionless behind barbed wire, surrounded by warnings of famine, violence, forced migration and abuse. For me, and for the current and past interns with whom I have already shared the drawing, the irony was apparent. People bearing the brunt of crises, but lacking agency; people whose legitimate voices have been isolated, even barricaded; people who can barely adjust to the storms that surround them, let alone contribute to minimizing global shocks.”
Dr. Robert Zuber
Global Action to Prevent War
A Tribute to Lin Evola and Her Peace Angels, Dr. Robert Zuber, GAPW Director
When last I was in the Metropolitan Museum with two of my dearest friends, I was reminded yet again of the degree to which great art demands that we see what we are not otherwise inclined to see, but also to see differently. Such art is not only about the themes that fill the canvas, but about composition and context. It begs us to have our emotions exposed and educated. It demands that we be more than a consumer of great artistic nameplates but a respecter of technique in the service of a vision that exposes some or all of the alleged “certainties” of our own age for which we much too often settle.
The production of great art is also so much more than an avocation, more than the application of a well-honed skill set. It is, in its best sense, a “whole person” endeavor, tied to technical practice, but also to courageous vision and determined value. It can send its creators to the brink of ecstasy, or of mental despair. It can both inspire and humble its beholders in the very same moment.
This humility is not tied to being self-effacing, but is instead tethered to the realization that what we propose for ourselves – our vision, our aspiration, even our ambition — lies forever beyond our best capacity. We may be good at what we do. We may have many academic degrees and lots of life experience. But problems in our institutions and in our world are vast and resistant to our remedial efforts. Moreover, the consequences flowing from our personal, artistic or policy decisions are barely knowable, even with great efforts at discernment.
To be humble in this way means demanding to “see” beyond the categories of culture we have inherited, and also doing our best to anticipate what happens if we take one or another of the roads less traveled. What happens if our strivings misfire? What happens to others when we see something that isn’t there, or as is more generally the case, fail to see so much of what lies within our own horizons? Who is affected by that? Whose lives may be shortchanged?
In many ways, the artist’s “whole person” work has much in common with the work of my office, efforts towards more peaceful, sustainable, inclusive societies. The artist Lin Evola recognizes and indeed practices this common passion. She is a peacemaker in the best sense, sharing so much of herself, having patience with those who don’t see what she sees, putting her best values and vision on display so that others can take pause from their anxieties, ambitions and social conventions and truly behold some of the possibilities in life that they’ve otherwise been missing!
Lin’s artistic creation is the fruit of someone who understands the multiple ways in which art educates emotions and inspires actions. Her use of shape and color to create the Peace Angels is often arresting. Her compositions consisting of recycled weapons, some broken down to the molecular level, are literally breath stealers.
The image of hopeful beauty created from recycled weapons of death is stunning. Taking something inherently dangerous and, rather than simply destroying it, turning it instead from a common to a sacred use. Art represents that sacred use. Art is the sacred space that allows us to dream, to learn, to reconstruct, to believe in something beyond ourselves, perhaps even including our best selves.
This is the hopeful outcome of the artist’s craft, of Lin’s craft. This is the essence of why art is so important to peacemaking. In an age of dual-use weaponry and torture committed with common objects to perpetuate its humiliation, Lin repurposes in stunningly life-affirming fashion. Her gifts make our gifts better and bring us closer to the Peace Angels we need to become