Placer High students showcase their artistic skill on Auburn utility boxes


Photo credit: Eliana Merck

Outlines on the Auburn Ravine and Elm corner utility box show Placer student’s plans.

Story by Marlie Buckingham, Messenger Staff Writer

Two Placer High School art students are painting a utility box in Auburn to help bring awareness to the beauty in diversity.

Eliana Merck a senior, and Ashlyn Rand a junior, are painting a utility box in Auburn CA. The Auburn Arts Commission was looking for artists to paint the utility box as the previously painted utility box had been replaced. Katy Fries, Placer High School ceramics teacher, recommended the girls for this project. The box is located on the corner of Elm ave and Auburn Ravine road, near Safeway.

Both of the students have grown up showing an interest in art. “Eliana Merk and Ashlyn Rand are extraordinary artists,” said Fries.

Merck stated “the main concept of the box is to represent diversity.” The students are including as many disabilities, skin colors, and mental illnesses as possible.

The front of the main box has an African American woman with vitiligo, a skin condition. The remaining three sides of the box are lined with as many different faces as

possible. The smaller box on the side is covered with a variety of types and colors of flowers, representing the beauty in differences.

Because of the location of the box, the students have also faced some challenges. First, the box is on a hill so they need to put all of their supplies and pull that up the hill. The girls have also had a difficult time dealing with unwanted interactions with individuals in the area. Lastly, they have had some issues with finishing painting the utility box because of the weather.

“We hope on having the box completed by this summer,” said Rand

Mrs. Fries added, “It is a pleasure to see these girls shine and give our community a chance to enjoy their skills in showing diversity with their painted Utility Box as soon as the weather warms up for them to finish the work.”

Eliana Merck and Ashlyn Rand are well known for their artistic ability. “If anyone were to paint the utility box I’m glad it’s them,” said Ella Sharples.