Boxes of Death

Fifty artists design 50 coffins for the Portland leg of a traveling art show

by Hunter Hess


Seattle-based design firm Electric Coffin will be taking their annual show Boxes of Death on the road this year for the third time. What began with 20 artists exhibiting in the cramped basement of a hotel has quickly grown into a touring collection featuring more than 50 top artists, as well as lesser-known local designers and some very talented friends.

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Creator Patrick “Duffy” De Armas, who runs Electric Coffin with his partner Justin Elder, describes the inspiration for the show as coming from two seemingly unlikely sources. “When I first moved to Seattle I went to a clock show,” he says. “Everyone’s clock was different, but they were all clocks. I was just so infatuated with the idea of the obvious comparison of different art styles on the same canvas. The second inspiration was studying Kane Quaye—who is most famous for his Mercedes Benz coffins.”

The show features 50 miniature coffins from artists all over the country including pieces by wood block artist Dennis McNett and ceramics designer Charles Krafft. While each individual piece follows a common theme, the personality and taste of each artist is vibrantly apparent. De Armas explains, “The idea of using the coffin as a personalized vessel to showcase who a person was as opposed just a box made me think, ‘Why not give other artists a chance to see what a coffin means to them?'”

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The growth of Boxes of Death in just two years has De Armas and Elder looking forward to the future, and with a touring show and a book to be released later this year, they have plenty to be excited about. The Portland stop opens tonight, 6 April 2012, at Nemo Design and closes the following night. If you can’t make it catch the final showing at LA’s The Holding Company on 12 April 2012.

Photography by Hunter Hess