Wave Pool, a contemporary arts space in Camp Washington, aims to use art as a problem solver for—in the words of cofounder and executive director Cal Cullen—“just about everything.” After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year, Wave Pool, Mexico City–based artist Pedro Reyes, and local flutemaker Dave Copley joined forces to transform 17 guns into flutes—one representing each of the massacre’s victims.
“We wanted [the flutes] to look as much like shotguns as possible,” Copley says. That meant customizing the size and spacing of the each barrel’s holes to achieve the perfect pitch.
Each flute is packaged in its own carrying case handmade by women at The Welcome Project, a social enterprise connected with Wave Pool that trains local immigrants and refugees in workplace skills. The flutes are slightly different sizes depending on the barrel length and gauge. Each bag is also hand-embroidered with #marchforourlives.
The gun barrel flutes made their debut during the Cincinnati March for Our Lives on March 24, which was one of hundreds of demonstrations that took place nationally and were largely organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
“A lot of the women [who helped create the flute’s carrying cases] come from war-torn countries and places of civil unrest and are very familiar with violence,” says Cullen. “The idea of transforming something destructive into something positive and beautiful really resonated with them.”
Reyes is known for using unconventional media, including decommissioned shotguns, pistols, and rifles. His 2008 project, Palas por Pistolas, took melted steel from 1,527 weapons to create shovels to plant an equal number of trees.