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Growing Up

A San Francisco muralist takes native growths and "plants" them in paint along the sides of buildings where they remain in bloom.

Mona Caron finds the subjects for her paintings growing at her feet in the earth. To then depict what she finds, she rises above the earth. She can be found in locales as varied as Brazil, San Francisco, Switzerland, Taiwan, Bolivia, India, and Ecuador, confidently applying images of plants and weeds with brush and paint or with a spray can from a teetering platform suspended by ropes.

“I love heights, I love being up high, that’s the whole reason I do this,” says the muralist from her San Francisco home, referring in particular to her “Weeds” series of works in which she often depicts invasive and endemic species unfurling in scale along the sides of buildings.

While most painters begin by facing an empty canvas, Caron confronts for every one of her commissions a blank wall, a canvas of sorts that can rise twenty stories. “When I’m up on a wall painting one of my works, it’s like I’m drawing with my nose against paper,” she says. “When you’re that close, you have no idea what you’re painting. You can’t step back and assess what you’ve doing.” But she does intimately know her subject beforehand, given extensive prep work that involves making detailed drawings of how to proceed.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY DUSTIN FOSNOT AND TED HEMBERGER

WRITTEN BY DAVID MASELLO

 

This story appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of MILIEU.