Graffiti Goes Green
The word “graffiti” may conjure up images of lawless teenagers scrawling obscenities in spray paint under the darkness of night. But graffiti evolved into an art form decades ago. As artists pushed their creative boundaries, urban street art grew . . . organic. Their innovation revealed that even graffiti can be eco-friendly.
In the past few years, more and more public art began to incorporate flora as a medium. One artist exploring this realm is Edina Tokodi who prefers working with organic, natural materials. Trained at Budapest's Academy of Fine Arts, she has no background in actual graffiti. She creates green graffiti to give back. Her original inspiration came during a trip to Japan where she saw zen gardens for the first time. Bothered by the lack of plant life in her own city, she decided to introduce nature in a way that might help urban dwellers achieve a more Zen outlook.
After finding her first organic medium, moss, Tokodi brightened up dark street corners with her verdant works. She explains, “It’s interactive too. People can get up close to see and touch the plants.” Her pieces are often commissioned, privately or publicly, indoors and out, but occasionally she engages in the subterfuge of graffiti by green thumb. Why? She likes to see the reaction.
Tokodi has also come to appreciate the challenges of living art: Paint and plaster don’t require sunlight or humidity. The conditions need to be just right for her exhibits. So she explores constantly, educating herself about new plant varieties that might lend themselves to her canvases.
In her most recent work, she stepped away from moss and grass to explore soil, sand, and sod in her “Permaculture” exhibit for the NeuroTitan gallery in Berlin. Organic art means less waste — the gallery made a point of reusing her materials in the garden after the exhibit ended.
So what does the future hold for Edina Tokodi? From her perspective, bigger is better when it comes to having nature around. She sees larger scale versions of her mosstika on the horizon.
—Carolyn Cotney / photos: Mosstika Urban Greenery and Carlos Fresneda
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