Swiss-born and San Francisco-based illustrator, printer and muralist Mona Caron spent last Friday afternoon sketching and hand-painting a small flower and its leafy base on the side of West Asheville’s Collapseable Studios’ graffiti-spotted wall.
While the plant could be shrugged off as a weed, Caron thinks differently. “These insistent, resistant plants, these ‘nuisances,’ they’re called; they’re precisely the most humble plants that I find to be beautiful,” she says. The plant that she painted turns out to be a wildflower in the Aster family. It was reaching out of a parking lot behind the Dry Goods Shop and artist Dustin Spagnola’s studio.
Whether it’s their power to thrive amid and against the local floral populace and concrete, or their resistance to death, Caron says the plants are worth noting — for their inherent ferocity at the very least. In fact, such plants are the subject of dozens of similar murals that Caron has spread around the Bay area and several coastal California towns. She’s even turned one of these “small” flowers, a “common fiddleneck,” into a multi-stories-tall painting on the side of a low-income housing unit in Union City, Calif.
“Every invasive species is a native somewhere,” she says. “It’s the perfect emblem for globalism.” With that in mind, each of her paintings is spreading her own ideas and glorifying the small and unnoticed plants often found beneath our feet. Weeds, she says, are the first step to reclaiming what we’ve destroyed. “The more you step on it, the harder is grows,” she says. “It’s a celebration of nature and how it keeps coming back.”