Art For Social Change
Franck de las Mercedes is a NYC artist who has brought contemporary art to a broader audience through his project “The Priority Boxes” (AKA Peace Boxes). Since 2006 he has been creating free art with a peaceful message. To date, he has sent more than 17,000 painted, seemingly empty boxes with labels that read “Fragile Contains: Peace, Love or Hope” to people.
The recipients didn’t pay a penny for their boxes. The project has been funded by the artist, donations from supporters and a paint sponsorship from Pébéo.
About “The Priority Boxes” AKA Peace Boxes
Each box is both a canvas for a unique abstract painting and also a platform for communication through art – a mixture of art and social engagement. It is a stunning example of how one artist who creates art for social change can make a difference. The peace boxes have quickly evolved into a movement embraced by popular culture, the mainstream media, schools and art educators across America and abroad.
Franck’s project encourages people to consider how they might be able to influence others using similar creative activities. Franck’s simple and ambitious creative initiative has served as a catalyst for others to participate in conversations about art and peace. They inspire questions about the fragility, value and priority given to those concepts.
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.
About Franck de las Mercedes
Franck de las Mercedes was born in Masaya, Nicaragua. His experience as a child in war-torn Nicaragua, the visual clash of New York’s graffiti and an interest in the abstract expressionism movement played a major role in him becoming a visual artist.
Franck was Named one of “15 Artists to Dominate 2015” by Complex Magazine. In 2014, the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly honored him for his Peace Boxes Project. He was also recognized as an “Outstanding Latino” by the Union City Music Project for being a role model for students and a leader within the community.
He has participated in many national and international exhibitions world-wide including The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt New York, the Museum of Modern Art’s “Abstract Currents”, Sing for Hope Piano 2015, BKLYN Designs, Naples Museum of Art, among others. In 2012, his portrait of Francisco de Quevedo was acquired by Fundación Francisco de Quevedo for their permanent collection in Ciudad Real, Spain.
About the “Peace Boxes” Franck states, “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 Continue – Message to Teachers
Although the initial project will end this month there’s still time to request free boxes. Rest assured, this is not the end of the Peace Boxes. As long as schools and teachers continue to make their own, it will continue to grow.
In early 2017, Franck started printing and deleting digital files of lost works and studies, which he prints and hand embellishes with notes and random messages on postcards.The artist then sends or hands them out to total strangers.
For more info visit Franck de las Mercedes’ website: franckdelasmercedes.com/