Robert Miley, Release the Fear
302 West Monroe Street, Phoenix, Arizona, 85003, United States
begun c. 1995
About the Artist/Site
Release the Fear is a 25-foot-tall sculpture fused from 17,000 pounds of melted weapons confiscated by the Phoenix police department at the scenes of violent crimes. Artist Robert Miley spent ten years completing the sculpture, which was unveiled to the public in 2005. Standing at the intersection of North Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street, the sculpture ascends like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. The abstracted figure’s outstretched arms grasp redemption and “release the fear,” anger, and hatred down below.
A disturbing assemblage of handguns, automatic weapons, brass knuckles, machine guns, knives, chains, and even a nunchaku and a samurai sword are the materials that form the base of the statue. The multiple tons of cold metal weapons impress a heaviness upon the viewer as both physical object and emotional catalyst, like thousands of negatively charged talismans. The surrounding concrete is designed with inlaid shapes resembling sandblast cracks, and quotes from peace activists span out from the eruptions.
The Release the Fear sculpture was created as a visual metaphor embodying the principles of Miley’s youth outreach art organization of the same name. Miley founded Release the Fear in 1996 to provide art workshops for vulnerable, at-risk youth populations. Workshops address nonviolent conflict resolution and help young people develop better critical thinking skills. The organization typically visits juvenile detention centers as well as elementary and high school classrooms, bringing art materials to the workshops, where Miley and other teachers encourage participants to express their anger and fear through the artistic process.
The curriculum for Release the Fear was inspired by a grass-roots anti-violence organization called Sanctuary Foundation in Guam. Miley has visited the organization many times since the 1980s and is now an honorary ambassador of the country. Workshops have been taken to other parts of the globe as well, including parts of Central America. Release the Fear workshops have proven to significantly reduce the recidivism rate of youth criminal activity, and the program continues to help participants emerge from the rubble of distressing experiences to release the creative potential within.
Map & Site Information
302 West Monroe Street
Phoenix, Arizona, 85003 us
Latitude/Longitude: 33.450639 / -112.0782368