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Geode Public Art Project Mixes Nature Into Urban Spaces (PHOTOS)

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 04/ 3/2012 7:32 am Updated: 04/ 3/2012 1:34 pm

Geodes

Tucked into unused pay phone booths, rusted pipe ends and crumbling brick walls around the streets of Los Angeles are geodes (those cool crystals that form inside unassuming rocks). Instead of minerals, though, these geodes are composed of paper and installed by artist Paige Smith.

Smith is a graphic designer and artist in Los Angeles, focusing on web design, print and, in the case of the Geodes, paper art. Her "Geode" street art project consist of 11 installations across Los Angeles, all mapped on her website.

The Huffington Post talked to Smith about her interest in the crystalline structures, the mixing of nature into an urban landscape and the problems with street art.

What about geodes work so well in Los Angeles landscape?
I was originally thinking about filling holes and gaps in the urban landscape with miniature "scenes," like dioramas. I constantly look at art blogs and my friends' Tumblrs and saw a beautiful image of an amethyst. Suddenly, the idea of filling a hole with a crystal, geodesic shape filled my head -- it told a story. I think Los Angeles is a great place for these pieces because it is so incredibly urban, especially where I live. It's sparse and not exactly described as "gorgeous" in the majority of areas. The current street art movement really helps make our city lively and more beautiful and I wanted to contribute to that in my own way.

Tell me about your interest with mixing nature into an urban society.
I love the poetry of very natural and organic shapes snuggled into the cracks of the city. It seems appropriate -- a manmade geode for a manmade building. I am considering growing real crystals as a new facet of the project, and so that I can produce faster, more accurate shapes and colors. It's still a manmade crystal, but not as "craft."


Click through for a slideshow of Smith's "Geode" project:

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Can you talk about the idea of temporary public art? (i.e., being comfortable with the potential for destruction or theft?)
A big part of the concept is that these little sculptures represent something natural. Nature can be destructive and humans can play a part in that. If you found an actual geode or a beautiful rock, you might take it so that you can admire it later. I've learned that people have their own feelings and reactions to my work and that might mean stealing or trashing the piece. I actually think it's an important part of the project and causes its own cycle of reactions. It's definitely hard when people steal the large ones. I didn't expect to feel hurt, but after such intensive work it stings a little. I'm trying to find ways to evolve the project to have a little more longevity.

What is the pleasure of realizing only a handful of people will notice the installations?
I started this because I've been living in urban settings for seven years. When I moved from the suburbs I started engaging with my surroundings in a new way -- all the time. I tried to notice the little things in these massive, thriving cities. Most of the time we miss the tiny details, the little beautiful things. It might seem strange, but I feel like I'm speaking to the people that take the time to get out of their car, walk the streets, and really see the details -- I like rewarding them.

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