They’ve traveled the globe, become a teaching tool in classrooms, entered galleries, museums, libraries and even lit up the iconic LED screens of Times Square, NYC.
For over ten years, NYC visual artist Franck de las Mercedes, named one of “15 Artists to Dominate 2015” by Complex Magazine, has sent more than 17,000 painted, seemingly empty boxes with labels that read “Fragile Contains: Peace, Love or Hope” to people around the world without charging a penny. The project has been funded by the artist, donations from supporters and a paint sponsorship from Pebeo.
Since its beginning in 2006, The Priority Boxes project (AKA Peace Boxes) has brought contemporary art to a broader audience, encouraging people to participate in conversations about art and peace, while challenging them to consider their ability to influence change and question the fragility, value and priority given to those concepts.
Each box is both a canvas for a unique abstract painting and a platform for communication through art – a mixture of art and social engagement The peace boxes quickly evolved into a movement embraced by popular culture, the mainstream media, schools and art educators across America and abroad. The message of the boxes continues to be adopted as teaching tool for educators, community centers and art therapy counselors across the US. In the summer of 2012 an image of a Peace Box was exhibited on the iconic LED screens of Times Square. In 2014, the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly passed a joint legislative resolution honoring Franck and the Peace Boxes Project.
“After a chance encounter at the Post Office, I began thinking: We always expect something of value to come in a box, but what if the box was empty yet contained something symbolic with a positive, challenging or inspiring message. It was at that moment that I decided to start an experiment in an effort to provoke thought and ask people to reconsider their ability to influence change. I wanted to create dialogue, so I started sending empty, painted boxes to anyone who requested one, anywhere in the world – for free. I decided to send the boxes without charging a penny for the work or shipping, to convey the message that something of such priority as peace should not have a price. And that art can be both inclusive and accessible.”
The project will be coming to a close in May 2016 after 10 years. This is not the end of the Peace Boxes. As long as schools and teachers continue to make their own, it will continue grow.
Franck de las Mercedes
Jun 1, 2016