Pinay mother turns grief over losing son to gun violence into an art exhibit & campaign for peace

VALLEJO, CA — At first glance, these paintings and sculptures might seem like normal works of art, but take a closer look — and you’ll find within them bits and pieces of an object that’s at the center of a national debate.

Art of Peace is an exhibit whose works repurpose metal from unwanted guns and turn it into art. It’s the culmination of a year’s worth of organizing, by the Robby Poblete Foundation, led by executive director Pati Navalta.

“When people hear the name Robby Poblete, I don’t want them to associate that with gun violence, I want them to associate that with a foundation that helped change lives and save lives.”

In 2014, Pati’s 23-year-old son Robby Poblete was killed by gun violence in their hometown of Vallejo, California, in what police believe was an apparent robbery. Four suspects are set to face a jury in September.

But for Pati, justice could not wait. She took matters into her own hands and in 2017 started the Robby Poblete Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps fight gun violence through its gun buyback programs — which has collected close to 250 guns so far.

For Robby’s mother, it’s about turning her grief into action — by helping others.

“What I’m hoping is that people come here, people who’ve undergone their own tragedies and losses and have some sense of hope and have some sense of action, that yes, we can be victimized but we can also rise.”

Guns transformed into art — and a mother’s loss transformed into a message of peace and hope.


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