Dense, green clumps of moss covers the rectangular canvas, an abundant assembly of greenery, clustered tightly together with a deep-blue, acrylic path weaving down the middle of the piece, like a river. This tropical landscape is titled “The Amazon,” and gives observers a bird’s eye view of the largest rainforest in Brazil.
Just in front of the moss-covered artwork, sporting a pair of rectangular shaped lenses, stands Mona King — an artist and a graduate from UNCG’s Interior Architecture program. “The Amazon” is just one of a variety of artwork created with different media and resources found in the environment.
“I grew up with a house full of plants and flowers,” King says. “My mother had a green thumb. We had this one section of the living room that was just filled with plants from floor to ceiling. We weren’t supposed to be in the living room as it was only for guests, but that’s where you would go when you wanted to feel good or warm. As it just kind of enveloped you.
“Nature has a way of connecting the human spirit to make us feel safe and comfortable,” she concludes.
King’s new art show “Living Aura” is on display at the Revolution Mill in Greensboro and opened in January. The show will be available until March 13.
Each moss collage has not only this flowerless greenery, but a mixture of other plants as well. In one landscape, King uses bamboo and scabiosa — a lilac-colored flower native to Africa, Europe and Asia — to create a jungle image.
“Somebody wrote me a letter asking why I am taking all the moss, as it’s natural,” she says. “Mine is sustainably harvested and usually not from the United States. So, they make sure that if they are removing the moss that it does have the ability to grow back. So, I have to use multiple sources from all over the world.”
Gazing up at the overhead architectural model-like image, she talks about the subtle messages that can be seen in her works.
“I have a member of an advisory team and he came into one of my first showings and he says, ‘I love what you’re doing, but your work also has to relay a message to people,’” she says. “I created the one that is a tribute to the Amazon to bring awareness of what’s going on in our world and our climate. This may be something you won’t see 10 years from now, because there won’t be any trees. Again, I’m thinking about what’s now happening to Australia, California and climates around the world.”
Gesturing towards the piece again, King speaks further on the piece and its importance.
“The rainforest is like a lung that cleans the air,” she says, “and that it is actually a breathing system that is from the trees. People don’t realize that.
“It purifies, it cleanses the air and provides moisture into the atmosphere,” she contiues. “And as we destroy more trees, we’re losing that.”
On the other side of the room, two more images splayed on two canvases hang side by side. Both works feature a photograph of the base of a tree mixed with brown leaves, twigs, stones and green moss in the background. It looks as though the objects in the photograph are breaking out of the canvas and into the real world.
“It’s kind of like when you’re in a theater performance, and there’s 20 things going on and you can’t see which way to look,” King says. “There’s always something different. I don’t want it to be one big, green mass of moss or one stick or leaf. I want you to be able to explore and find something different.”
Three visitors enter the exhibit, pausing mid-step to catch glimpses of the large, framed artwork depicting tones of light and dark green chunks of moss bundled together. One woman in the group wearing a small winter hat on her head stare at the landscape intensely, drawn to the mix of green moss and oceanic blues in the bottom left of the frame.
“I just hope people have an open mind to different types of art,” King says. “Everybody thinks the traditional painting, sketching or drawing — this is different because it combines all those elements but it’s kind of combination of photography, sculptor, collage and imagination. If you look at a picture and see a beach, other people may see other things.”
Turning her head to the sound of voices coming from a man and a woman entering the exhibit, she says, “I hope that they see the value and that it will calm you —and that it will have a long-lasting value, then just I need to put something on the wall.”