Youngster Jesse Graves has been running around Milwaukee stenciling his artistic messages of eco-sanity on sidewalks, walls, and concrete pylons. But lucky for his lungs and his criminal record, he's doing it with mud instead of paint. Graves, who signs his work MSR (mud stencils rule), writes: "I use mud or earth because it is a fundamental life-giving substance, logical for my messages. Mud stencils are an evolving medium, intended for art and social justice, not corporate advertisement."
Graves' iconography is well suited to the muddy medium (or maybe it's vice versa): his pieces show a cow dreaming about eating grass instead of industrial corn feed, he adds "compost" to the reduce/reuse/recycle loop, and a wispy dandelion says "eat wild." Most of his pieces are pretty bite-sized, but some are larger, like this one created to protest abuses at the Tamms prison in Illinois.
We've seen moss become graffiti-esq public art, and we've seen activists use pressure washers to create "reverse graffiti." Graffiti has been used to bring attention to scummy beaches, and by Greenpeace on Hewlett-Packard's roof.
Graves gives his recipe on his website. To do your own mud stencils you'll need: a utility knife, a roll of mylar, a sponge, and tape. He also seems to use a paint roller for some jobs. Oh yes, and mud. Graves suggests mixing it with a whisk to the consistency of peanut butter. We wonder how different muds would yield different colors and textures.
Although Graves writes his graffiti under the pen name of MSR (mud stencils rule), he isn't trying to hide his identity. In fact he invites anyone else working with similar materials to contact him directly. In this video, the too-young-to-shave propagator of the mud stencil art describes his approach.
Thanks to tipster Robin!