by Jacqueline Goldman
Total world peace may seem like a far-off goal, but one artist is making steps in the right direction by taking peace and sending it throughout the world. Artist Franck de Las Mercedes has been sending abstractly painted boxes labeled “Fragile: Contains Peace” to every corner of the globe since May 2006.
The aim of de Las Mercedes’ project is to make people reconsider their ability to influence change, communicate to one another through art and make art accessible to people from all walks of life, de Las Mercedes said on his website.
De Las Mercedes hand paints each box and provides it with a label that reads “Fragile: Contains Peace,” “Hope” or “Love” in the recipient’s native language. The visual artist said he hopes to inspire more than just the excitement of receiving a colorful package in the mail; de Las Mercedes said he hopes the box elicits conversation about what it contains.
“[The goal is to have] people interact with a work of art, from the person requesting one, to the very first change of hands at the post office, all the way to its receiver,” de Las Mercedes said.
The boxes carry messages of hope, peace and love to every continent, yet the boxes don’t actually have anything inside of them.
“As an artist, I have seen the importance of art and how it is able to bridge people together and find common ground,” de Las Mercedes said. “Art has the power to communicate and to change lives. This project is very important because it helps find common ground.”
Since 2006, the project has grown substantially. It originally began as an experiment inspired by a run-in with a Post Office worker who noted that the boxes of paints he would mail resembled art work, de Las Mercedes said. Now he has sent out more than 10,600 boxes that have gone to every continent in the world.
“It’s rewarding when I hear from people how [the boxes] have affected them in their lives, not my work, but how art has impacted their lives,” de Las Mercedes said. “People find a sense of hope within this project.”
Anyone can request a box. The boxes are free of charge and have always been that way, even when it required de Las Mercedes to pay for shipping out of his own pocket. His only reward is to spread those messages throughout the globe from his studio apartment in New Jersey, and since starting he has received financial assistance from donations by supporters of the project.
After six years the boxes are still sent out for free and de Las Mercedes said he thinks that is the right choice.
“I think it makes the message more poignant,” de Las Mercedes said. “How do you give a value to ideas like ‘Peace’ ‘Hope’ and ‘Freedom?’ It wouldn’t have the same message if you could buy a box of ‘Hope.’”
De Las Mercedes requests that people who receive his boxes post pictures of themselves with the box on his Facebook page. Take one look at his page, and it’s obvious that his message of love and peace is truly being received globally.
One box recipient, Shannon Lubben, shared the box with her daughter and said she was thankful for a beautiful moment to talk about something like love with her family. “When my daughter first saw the box, she didn’t understand that it doesn’t need to be opened up, that it contains love, and love is not tangible,” Lubben said on de Las Mercedes’ Facebook page.
Whitworth senior graphic design major Pamela Murphy, upon learning about the project, said she appreciates de Las Mercedes’ project.
“I think that it is a cool project because hope is something America lacks, even amongst our rich society,” Murphy said. “It’s very encouraging for society in general.”
Although de Las Mercedes keeps busy painting boxes, he puts aside time to keep in contact with fans and supporters. Through his Twitter and Facebook that he updates regularly, de Las Mercedes personally thanks those who request boxes and post pictures on his page. How busy is he during the day? Just take a look at one of his Twitter posts from Feb. 13.
“Shipped over 100 boxes today to #New Zealand, #Australia, #Belgium, #Spain, #Finland, #Brazil, #Switzerland, #Italy, #Ethiopia and #Taiwan!”
Want to request a Priority Box? Visit Franck de Las Mercedes www.fdlmstudio.com.
Contact Jacqueline Goldman at email@example.com.