In the days following 9/11, a 13-foot angel sculpture was placed outside Nino’s Restaurant on Canal Street. The restaurant, operating on a 24/7 basis, provided food, coffee and a warm place to rest for the hundreds of rescue and recovery workers who toiled for weeks after the attack. This bronze beacon of comfort rose high enough over the smoke and haze enabling exhausted workers to locate it. When a worker asked directions to Nino’s they were told to “look up, and when you see the angel, you’re there.”
The Renaissance Peace Angel (RPA), the sculpture’s official title, was created by artist Lin Evola, a California-native who sought to create art that would counterbalance the alarming rise of gun violence in her L.A. community years before 9/11. While the angel was created from bronze, its plaque is made from melted metal from confiscated weapons donated by various law enforcement agencies. From this initial angel came the Peace Angels Project USA Weapons Destruction Campaign whose mission is to remove millions of weapons from neighborhoods across the country. The Project’s first donation of 3500 weapons came from confiscated firearms by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The RPA remained for months outside Nino’s restaurant; its base by then filled with signatures, calls for peace, words of encouragement and lots of “God bless America.” Moved to the National September 11 Memorial Museum’s permanent collection in November of 2018, the statue and base were placed in the Museum’s Tribute Walk, alongside the memorial to Brooklyn’s Engine 205, H & L 118.
Evola, who continues to sculpt angels and other symbols of peace from confiscated weapons, is thrilled that the sculpture is on display “where the public can see the armaments that were once meant to destroy life…transformed into a symbol of peace and understanding.” When asked about the genesis of the Peace Project, Evola explains that as a single mother in L.A., during the violence of the 1990’s, and learning that over 1,000 children were killed in L.A. County, she felt compelled to use her skills as a conceptual artist, “to interrupt the cycle of violence and transform it into a cycle of peace.”
The donated weapons include handguns, rifles, and automatic weapons, as well as items collected from criminal seizures, guns turned into law enforcement, and materials from nuclear missiles. Companies in the metal management business have donated furnaces, equipment and employees to convert the metal into usable material for future works of art. With a recent donation of two tons of weapons metal mix, more angels and other symbols of peace are being created with some already promised to sites across the globe.
An artist “since birth,” Evola’s story is an amazing example of what one person can do. She says, “We are all accountable to each other in this world….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 or of our nations…let each Peace Angel stand as a constant reminder of our unshaken resolve to change the course of human history.”
The plaque that rests on the RPA is framed with shapes of donated weapons and reads:
Peace Angels are here to fortify, we – the people of the world nation of many faces, we stand together. Equal in race, sex and creed. In solidarity, we strive to overcome the obstacles of fear and hatred as we melt the weapons – the tools of the destruction of our time. Together we pledge our courage and create symbols of peace.
With a resume that includes solo exhibitions in museums and galleries across Europe and the United States, Evola holds a Master a Fine Arts Degree from San Francisco Art Institute. To learn more about Lin Evola’s works and the Peace Angel Project, visit peaceangels.com (site will be live on April 1, 2019).