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Fond du Lac community takes part in national “Soul Box Project”

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 4:55 PM CDT
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FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - A national art project found its way to Fond du Lac. The Soul Box Project aims to visualize a widespread issue, and anyone can participate.

Driving through Downtown Fond du Lac people may notice a wall of boxes in the window of Trista Holz Studios.

Each origami box represents a person killed or injured by gun violence.

“I’m not against guns, I don’t want anybody getting worried about that. It’s just an awareness of how many people have died from the use of guns,” said Deb Bartelt, who brought the project to Fond du Lac.

Bartelt is a retired Marian University art professor who rallied many in the community to take part in creating the boxes.

“We’ve come up with close to 700 boxes,” said Bartelt.

For now, some of those boxers on display at the local studio.

“They think that it’s amazing that people are being honored as far as their life, and it’s just kind of a remembrance of people who’ve perished by gunfire,” said Studio Owner Trista Holz. “I do have on occasion people who will say ‘Well, is this against guns?’ and I thought that was interesting because it became quite the topic of discussion.”

Discussion and getting people to consider the issue is what project founder Leslie Lee says it’s all about.

“When you say 70,000 people a year are killed or injured by gunfire, when you say that or you see that number written out, it really doesn’t register. But when you see it, and you feel it by being surrounded by all these boxes,” said Lee. “The purpose is really to show the numbers and to hope people will respond on an individual basis.”

The Fond du Lac boxes will become a part of a future national display of 200,000 boxes at Washington D.C.'s National Mall in April.

But for now, Lee says plenty of local displays are popping up across the county. Using methods like window displays or virtual means so people can experience the exhibits during the pandemic.

“Even a hundred of these, gathered together, if people realize that represents just one day’s worth of gun deaths that’s pretty powerful,” said Lee.

A powerful display that can also be therapeutic for those who take part in making it.

“My family situation, we’ve had suicide in the family, it’s a matter of giving you a release of respect for that person,” said Bartelt.

Helping others share in the project is fulfilling for her and Lee.

“The reason you’re a teacher is you want everyone to learn and go beyond what you’ve taught,” said Bartelt. “So it made me feel good and it’s fun to see other people, and young people and older people [making them].”

“Doing something like this, that helps people calm down, and yet still is meaningful and knowing that what they’re doing is going to be joined together for this huge voice is very powerful,” said Lee.

Lee hopes to have people help with the national display in April, and is still looking for more boxes to be made.

To learn more about the project or to get involved CLICK HERE.

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