Franck de Las Mercedes Sends TreeHugger a Little Box of "Green" Peace


(TreeHugger Karin with her new box of green peace)

We were sure that when we went to the post office to pick up our box of "peace," labeled FRAGILE, that the clerk would react strangely. Don't you want to charge us for duty or something on this, we asked, shaking the box. It contains peace. The clerk looked at us like we were Borat and ushered us to move on.

Now sitting on my window ledge, this green box of peace (pictured above) has become an interesting show-and-tell item for friends and family. A box of peace, painted green. What's that all about?

To honour Earth Day (in April), Franck de Las Mercedes, a New York based artist sent us —— all the way to Jerusalem —— a lime-colored hand painted box that contains much more than city air. It contains an idea and the idea is peace. Odorless, weightless, tasteless, and not making a peep, only arriving quite late for Earth Day —— the message was there: it is never too late for making a little peace, especially when the environment's at stake.

And you know how much it cost this TreeHugger?

Nothing. Zip. Nada.

Giving his "art" away for free, with the hope that the idea spreads, you can find Franck de Las Mercedes peace boxes around the world. We first heard about him through Ziva our friend at Designist Dream and were intrigued by the idea. We wanted one!

He writes on his website: "What would you do if you suddenly received a box via mail, labeled "FRAGILE: Contains Peace"? How would you use it? Would you give it to someone else? Would you sell it? Would you just throw it away?

"Such a box is exactly what painter Franck de Las Mercedes has been sending since May of 2006 to anyone who asks him, anywhere in the world, for free.

"The Priority Boxes" project is a public art series that seeks to provoke thought, to make people reconsider their ability to influence change, communicate through art and make art accessible to people from all walks of life."


(Franck holding a box of "regular" peace, and at work)

Franck was born in Masaya, Nicaragua in 1972. Raised in a family of dancers, musicians and teachers, Franck spent his childhood immersed in the performing arts and surrounded by the local art and craftsmanship of his small town.

In the mid-eighties, the Sandinista/Contra conflict forced Franck's family to immigrate to New York, where Franck grew up and built an impressive resume in music and theatre. In the late nineties, Franck began to experiment and explore with an undying fascination with visual arts, this experimentation quickly evolved into a promising career.

Although there is no mention of using recycled boxes, and it does cost money and jet fuel to ship the empty box to Israel, or wherever you may live, this little green box of peace has done something to us from the inside, in a pay-it-forward kind of way.

Maybe there is no product in the box we can eat or consume; there is no formula for saving the earth from global warming and no blueprint for the Middle East peace canal. But there is one very important thing —— the message that tells people they have the power to communicate and touch each other's lives through small gestures. We're hoping that if more people in this volatile and polluted region order themselves a little (green) peace c/o Franck, it may just arrive in time. It's important to be a dreamer once and a while, don't you agree?

::Franck de Las Mercedes

Tags: Israel | United States