Green Graffiti by Edina Tokodi Brings Nature to the City

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Urban art installations and murals can challenge authority and subvert establishment, or just decorate a bleak concrete landscape. Sometimes, they can earn their creators wealth and fame. But the most compelling works show us a new way of seeing the world around us. They make us ask questions about our environment and our role in it.

We’ve covered the reverse graffiti trend, which seeks to build a conversation about the urban disconnect (and land a few ad jobs in the process). Today, I want to show you another vision of eco street art: the work Edina Tokodi.

Born in Hungary and now based in Brooklyn, Tokodi brightens the streets of Williamsburg with living moss murals. Check it:

Green graffiti by Edina Tokodi

According to Tokodi’s web site,

Her site-specific installations are inspired by Japanese Zen gardens and informed by the space’s environs, whether organic or man-made. Often sheathed in steel, glass, pavement and stone, the installations provide an unavoidable contrast to their surroundings. It is within this contrasting atmosphere, that her installations invite interaction, thus reclaiming the human bond with nature.

Eco street art by Edina TokodiTokodi is the founder Mosstika, “a NYC based collective of eco-minded street artists, using guerrilla tactics to evoke the call of man back to nature.” By bringing nature into the urban experience, the moss art leads us to wonder, What if this were not concrete and bricks, but trees and grass? How would that change things? 

Eco street art by Edina Tokodi

Just as intriguing are Tokodi’s living portraits–intricate designs made entirely from succulents. Like Impressionist paintings, the patterns seem somewhat abstract up close; at a distance, they come together to form a clear image. Squint and you can almost imagine you’re looking at a photograph.

At its best, a stenciled mural is inherently superficial. Even when designed to show depth, it’s still just a wall with paint on it. Tokodi’s pieces, on the other hand, are part of the physical environment, not just decoration. They are meant to be touched.

You can see more of Edina Tokodi’s green graffiti at Mosstika.com, or on the Behance Network. And, as always, I’m interested to hear what you think about “living” art and the role of street art in our society. Can urban murals go further than expression and affect culture more deeply? How might green art translate to green activism?

[Images: Mosstika on Behance]

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Reverse Graffiti Artists Create Clean Urban Murals

Thanks to artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey, most of us are aware of street art; usually unauthorized and often subversive, the sculptures and spray-painted murals pop up everywhere from Sao Paulo to London. In many cases, the art is applied over layers upon layers of previous graffiti. Even the best pieces are temporary (unless they’re Banksys, in which case they’re removed and sold for six figures).

But Banksy is old news. I’m here to show you a new trend in street art that’s storming the internet: reverse graffiti. Instead of stenciling over layers of paint and dirt, the artists clean away grime to create an image from negative space.

For example, Dutch Ink, a group formed by four brand communications students in South Africa, scrubs pictures of birds, fish, landscapes, and baroque fleur-de-lis designs onto dingy city walls. Their work, highlighting the disconnect between urban life and nature, has landed them plenty of attention online, as well as commercial jobs for ad agencies.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, reverse graffiti pioneer Paul Curtis teamed up with GreenWorks (Clorox’s eco branch) to stencil a forest of native plants on the inside of the Broadway tunnel. Filmmaker Doug Pray produced a short documentary on the project:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lX-2sP0JFw]

Uncommissioned reverse graffiti presents city officials with a bit of a conundrum. Authorities in many areas are quick to paint over murals and prosecute street artists. But reverse graffiti undeniably improves the urban environment–and who’s going to arrest someone for cleaning a wall?

Of course, the discussion extends to “traditional” street art, as well. If you paint birds and trees on a building, are you defacing property or beautifying unused space? Where does vandalism stop and art begin?

Some would say that art is considered crime when no one profits from it–in other words, authorities hide street murals because they don’t fit into the capitalist machine. But, when urban art is permitted, does it loose some of its impact? After all, part of the appeal comes from its ephemeral, guerrilla nature. It has an accessible art-to-the-people vibe that slick galleries can’t imitate. Can it maintain that quality when it’s legal, or even commissioned by a company like Clorox?

Philosophy aside, reverse graffiti has enormous potential to make our cities more pleasant and our commutes more entertaining. Commercialized or not, legal or not, creative projects like this are an exciting new element in the urban environment.

What do you think? Where and how does street art fit into modern urbanism? Is it illegal because it’s destructive, or because it’s subversive? Is the chance to reach a larger audience worth the artistic cost of commercialization? Share your thoughts in the comments or @thegreenlens. 

[Images: Dutch Ink, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Green Indie Products of the Month: Audubon-Inspired Art, Upcycled Seatbelt Bags, and a Stylish Bike Tool Carrier

GIPM is back, and it’s as green and independent as before. If you’re new, this series is where I try to curate the coolest work from independent artisans around the web. Great for them and great for you! This month we’ve got creative wildlife illustrations, upcycled iPad cases, and a stylish case for your bicycle tools.

Audubon-Inspired Digital Collages by Jason LaFerrera

Jason LaFerrera is a math and computer science student at Columbia University, but he says his memoir would be titled Should Have Gone to Art School. Inspired by the work of John Audubon, he creates digital wildlife collages. A unique feature is his use of maps; for example, Le Pigeon de Paris is made with historical maps of Paris, and California Grizzly Bear is cut from maps of the Golden State. Prints range from $40 to $250.

Upcycled Seatbelt Bags and Wallets by Interrobang

There are plenty of companies making recycled bags an iPad cases, but Melbourne-based Interrobang combines form and function in a unique way. Part of the fascination comes from taking a completely utilitarian product–a seatbelt–and crafting it into something attractive yet still indestructible. iPad sleeves start at $18, wallets at $20, and handbags at $45.

Mopha Bike Tool Roll by E.H. Works

E.H. Works is a design and development studio specializing in functional, expertly crafted products. Their latest creation is the Mopha Tool Roll, a stylish way to carry your bike gear on the morning commute or the cross-country expedition.

Via Bearings:

[Founder Erica Hanson] told us the Tool Roll was born out

of a desire by a few members of a cycling group, known as Mopha, who wanted a simple and highly functional way to carry their bike tools…She delivered a straightforward form comprised of rolled canvas, leather trim and vintage toe strap that allows for maximum utility. “No more chaffing velcro, synthetic zippers and fabric, and black-hole searches through something manufactured far from home,” says Erica.

Useful, handsome, and well-crafted… Isn’t it interesting that the revival of an “old” form of transportation can inspire classic creativity? This piece of creativity is priced at $44.

 

I’m always looking for new green products to feature. If you have any tips, go ahead and hit me up @thegreenlens or here.

Green Indie Products of the Month: The New Life of Fire Hoses, Birch Stumps, and Delhi Trash

This is part of a series of monthly posts featuring sustainable and independent brands from around the web. If you want to see your favorite indie seller on the Green Lens, get in touch via the contact page or @thegreenlens.

Firehose Belt x Feuerwear

The green manufacturing scene is hardly short of innovative textiles, but the belts and bags from Feuerwear use a truly original material: retired firefighting hoses. (The German word feuer translates to “fire.”) The fashionably worn look of Feuerwear’s belts is not the result of an artificial “distressing” process but of a hardworking previous life. How else would you be able to tell your friends that your belt helped save lives?

+ Feuerwear

Upcycled Wallet x Holstee

Soon after quitting their day jobs, the founders of Holstee gained Internet fame with their much-reblogged Manifesto Poster. Another signature product, the upcycled wallet, is an accessory with a story.

Working with a family-run non-profit based in India that works to collect, sort and clean what was once litter from the streets of Delhi we were able to create our dream wallet. This vegan wallet is made primarily of plastic bags and newspapers. Production of the wallet helps reduce waste in Delhi, provides fair wage employment and subsidizes healthcare and education for each employee’s family.

If you have a functioning wallet, it’s really greener just to keep using it, but if you’re shopping for a new cash-carrier anyway, these are a hip and sustainable choice.

Holstee

 

White Birch Forest Lights and Clock x Urban+Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

The work of this Rockland, Maine-based studio has a rustic, and sometimes surreal, aesthetic. Urban+Forest’s lamps, coasters, clocks, and wall art are handmade from reclaimed birch. They promise to bring the outdoors into your contemporary space at a surprisingly affordable price. I might have to subtract some green points for the incandescent bulbs, but that design choice is easy to overlook in such beautiful pieces.

+ Urban+Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Indie Products of the Month: Recycled Art, Hand-carved Furniture, and Wool Hats with a Mission

This is part of a series of monthly posts featuring sustainable and independent brands from around the web. If you want to see your favorite indie seller on the Green Lens, get in touch via the contact page or @thegreenlens.

Recycled Mixed Media Art by Dolan Geiman

Chicago artist Dolan Geiman uses salvaged wood and found objects to create pieces that are at once rustic and cutting-edge. His “contemporary art with a Southern accent” has earned him national recognition and high-profile clients, such as Fossil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geiman’s “greenness” is rooted in an authentic DIY ethic:

Incorporating eco-friendly practices into our business has been a natural process since its inception. For Dolan, the idea of taking things and repurposing them was an ideological current passed down from generation to generation for a family living in a rural community. Years later, having moved to Chicago with a few bucks and a car-load of artwork and supplies, the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra was a similar economic reality for an emerging artist and burgeoning arts company.

Interpretive Furniture by Gray Works Design

Andrew Gray and Elizabeth Bryant run a woodworking shop in the Catskill Mountain town of Bearsville. Like Dolan Geiman’s constructions, Andrew Gray’s hand-carved  bowls, tables, and plates have a sense with timeless craftsmanship. The handmade style doesn’t come cheap, but each piece is a unique work of art.

In an article on the Etsy blog, Andrew and Elizabeth said their sustainable values are inspired the setting in which they work:

Our love of place informs the objects we create, as well as our strong sense of responsibility to cultivate an environmentally sustainable company. We owe everything to the wilderness where we live and work, so protecting and supporting it is our highest priority.

 

Reclaimed Wool Hats by Bricologable

 

 

Bricologable is the project of a San Francisco crafter “with an underutilized degree in history and an oddly applied degree in fashion design.” The limited edition hats featured in the online shop are made from reclaimed wool, and, better still, 10 percent of the profits go to Muttville, a charity that rescues and advocates for senior dogs.