For many city dwellers, the closest they might get to nature is the neighbourhood park, or a gaggle of weeds sprouting up in between the cracks of the sidewalk. But it may come as a surprise that while we may declare war on them in our gardens, weeds are also symbols of resilience and have also been sources of food and medicine for millennia, and might even be good for farming.
In honour of the humble but powerful weed, San Francisco-based artist Mona Caron paints them in all their towering glory on the walls of cities across the world. Watch her video on them blossoming up:
So far, Caron has created murals in places like Portland, Sãu Paulo, Spain and Taiwan. In line with her belief in "artivism" (or art with an activist bent), she often collaborates with local social and environmental organizations on her works. Caron's floral subjects are often selected from local species, and she is careful to include bits of historical or cultural references of local significance in her works.
Several of these murals contain intricate miniature details, invisible from afar. These typically narrate the local history, chronicle the social life of the mural’s immediate surroundings, and visualize future possibility, and are created in a process that incorporates ideas emerging through spontaneous conversations with the artwork’s hosting communities while painting.
Take, for instance, Caron's mental narrative behind this commissioned artwork soaring high in the city of Kaohsiung, Lingya District, Taiwan:
I'm known to paint weeds. The plants in this mural are hardly weeds: their medicinal properties are appreciated enough to make them widely cultivated. But I painted them growing, like weeds do, from an inhospitable ground, a disturbed environment. Our disturbed environment.
Like weeds, their origins are sundry: Echinacea, Leonotis leonurus, agastache mexicana, safflower... each hails from a different continent, their only commonality is their possession of healing powers.
In the mural, their rootless migrant growth materializes like magic at the grassroots of the urban jungle, conjured like a spell around clusters of people engaged in various tiny actions that might reconnect us physically, emotionally, in action and spirit, to the primacy of nature and to each other. Drops in a bucket, imperceptibly small beneath the massive, skyrocketing dangers and harms looming above.
But from those beacons in the dark, healing plants grow upwards, pushing beyond our predicament. The healing plants assert themselves somehow, reaching that elusive clear sky, rarely seen in many cities like Kaohsiung.
Caron's approach seems to suggest that we should believe in the resilience of life: it's almost like the huge scale of some of these murals reverse some of that misguided sense of human superiority over lowly but enduring species like so-called "weed" plants. They are awe-inspiring reminders that there alternative narratives to the idea that weeds (and other species) are nuisances; in fact, they all have a role to play on this planet, as we do too. For more, visit Mona Caron.
[Via: This Is Colossal]