Arboretum planting combines art and commentary

by Jon Hetman, Director of External Relations & Communications
July 10, 2013

Arboretum planting combines art and commentary

Palas por pistolas

Arboretum hosts ceremonial planting with Harvard CAI and artist Pedro Reyes on July 12.

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University will host Professor Doris Sommer of Harvard’s Cultural Agents Initiative and artist Pedro Reyes this Friday for a ceremonial tree planting, an event which calls attention to the capacity of art to promote social change.

Cultural Agents Initiative (CAI) at Harvard University, an interface between academic learning and civic engagement, is collaborating with well-known Mexican artist Pedro Reyes to plant a newly accessioned tree in the Arboretum’s Leventritt Shrub and Vine Collection on Friday, July 12 at 10:00am. The event will include a talk by the artist and a tree planting followed by student performances.

Based in Mexico City, Reyes uses art as a means of intervention in considering society’s critical issues. One of his most notable projects, Palas por Pistolas (Shovels for Guns), is a campaign to curb the trade of small weapons. By transforming decommissioned firearms into shovels and using them for tree plantings around the world, Reyes cultivates a social rejection of the arms trade. His tenet of the artist as recycler is the essence of cultural agency, which dovetails with the CAI principle that interventionist art develops civic values and spaces for innovation. The Arboretum provides an ideal venue for this performance: a peaceful, free landscape that brings the Boston community together to experience the beauty and diversity of plants through education, horticulture, and research.

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