The Soul Box Project Is Honoring American Lives Lost to Gun Violence With an Installation in Old Town

“In order to change the gun culture in this country, we need to enter through the heart.”

From July 7 to July 27, the Soul Box Project—a Portland-based national community art initiative revealing the number of gunfire deaths and injuries in the United States—is reprising a portion of its National Mall exhibit of 200,000 Soul Boxes. The installation is presented in the renovated Overland Warehouse.

“In order to change the gun culture in this country, we need to enter through the heart,” said Leslie Lee, the Portland-based studio artist who founded the Soul Box Project. “Art does that in a way nothing else can. Looking back on the AIDS Quilt shows how effective this kind of action can be.”

The Old Town installation, titled This Loss We Carry, will feature over 40,000 origami Soul Boxes, which represent the people killed or injured by guns in the United States so far in 2022. In Portland alone, there have been 38 gun-related homicides this year.

The boxes were folded and embellished by survivors of gun violence from across the country.

Lee founded the Soul Box Project in 2017, responding to the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured more than 500 that year.

“As an artist, I felt the statistics needed a visual in order to be comprehensible,” Lee said. “Each Soul Box holds a physical space for one life taken or torn apart by gunfire. When they are massed together it becomes clear, in a visceral way, that our nation’s gunfire epidemic affects us all.”

More information about the Soul Box Project is available here.