USF Contemporary Art Museum

Steve Newborn, WUSF

He's an artist, a pigeon fancier and a tattoo artist. Brooklyn-based Duke Riley has found a muse in the lowly pigeon. It's a bird often derided as a sort of "rat with wings" or something dirty. But Riley says nothing could be further from the truth. 

USF Contemporary Art Museum

Margaret Miller remembers first meeting Theo Wujcik in 1972, when they shared the same office hallway shortly after both started working at the USF School of Art and Art History.

Miller, now the Director of the USF Institute for Research in Art, would stay late, studying to become a curator. Wujcik would also burn the midnight oil, working intensely on portraits using the traditional technique of silverpoint on paper.

USF Contemporary Art Museum

In 2008, Mexican artist Pedro Reyes took the concept of turning swords into plowshares literally and created an art campaign called Palas por Pistolas. People voluntarily gave up more than 1500 weapons, which he first melted down to turn into the same number of shovels, then used them to plant a corresponding number of trees.

Shortly after that, government officials pointed out there was a similar gun return policy in the city of Juarez and asked Reyes if he wanted to use those weapons in his art. He said yes, and in return, received more than 6700 firearms.

But instead of shovels, this time Reyes broke them down and turned their components into musical instruments.

“Same as a shovel plants a tree, a musical instrument is also something that is alive," Reyes says. "Every time you use it, you generate a new sound, a new event and people can gather around the music and I believe that just instruments are kind of the diametrically opposite to what a gun is - like, the guns are the rule of fear and music is the rule of trust.”

Some of those musical instruments are currently on display at the USF Contemporary Art Museum as part of the celebration of its 25 anniversary, CAM@25: Social Engagement.