Weeds, the Margin of Existence

Sierra Walsh, World Page Editor

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Weeds. Many people hear this word and instantly project a negative feeling onto it. Weeds are invasive, not wanted, noxious. Yet artist Mona Caron has dedicated her life to painting depictions of weeds onto buildings of all shapes and sizes in rundown areas and hidden places. Caron is an artist/activist based out of San Francisco who displays her art around the world.  She paints grandiose weeds to represent the “margins of society”, meaning the people in society who are left out and not paid attention to, and at worst sometimes thought worthy of eradication. Examples of these people are the poor, the mentally ill, the homeless and  immigrants- those who are constantly neglected by society.

So why represent them as weeds, something that could be seen as an insult when used in the wrong context or with malicious intent? This is because weeds are found at the edges of society, in the cracks between  buildings and  sidewalks, pushing up through impenetrable material, such as concrete and asphalt. Weeds get stepped on constantly yet they fail to die instead they grow back. No matter if they have room or not they will always come back because they are able to fight endlessly, and rise up no matter what the circumstances are and what restraints are put on them.  Caron herself stated the weeds were “a tribute to the resilience of all those beings who no one made room for, were not part of the plan, and yet keep coming back, pushing through and rising up”.

Caron explains her goal to “activate public space by simultaneously creating artwork and interactive street happenings, using the painting’s narrative to spark conversations and critical awareness of the space we share.”.

She paints the weeds with spray paint making them look hardy, not dainty, but also making them unrealistic, yet to a majority of people they look like a realistic majestic plant. When she paints these ominous weeds she paints them as if you were looking up at them from the ground making them seem heroic, because that is a major point that she is hoping to get across. When painting weeds, she sometimes has to use a crane so that she can reach the top of her weed. Caron now video tapes herself painting the weeds, so that she can record her progress and in the end meshing her progress together to create a short video of the process, making it seem as though the weed is growing before the viewers eyes.

She has  painted some of these weeds in the slums of India, emphasizing that her art has no borders, much like her subject, and that art is universal and does not need language to describe it.  According to sophomore, Carolina Fatta, “ My mother is an artist, so I’ve always been exposed to a lot of art during my life. I think that this is a very neat idea and I love her conscious approach to art. I also love art and think that her paintings are very vibrant and breathtaking.”

Caron also explaind that she used the word “weed” as a provocative word because she know the connotation that it held but wanted to emphasize that “ any little bit of nature is actually incredibly beautiful if you take time to look at it.” Carron has chosen to see beauty in something that is constantly looked over, setting an example that hopefully many will follow.  

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Weeds, the Margin of Existence