Los Angeles is an enigma of a city. Although it was actually just named cooler than New York, it is easy to feel disconnected and overwhelmed, even to a native like myself. Luckily, there are points of interest tucked in neat little corners and crevices which allow any interested individual to indulge in a little bit of the urban wonder that is L.A.
That’s where Paige Smith comes in. This past November, she started an amazing urban geode project in the rundown Arts District of Downtown L.A. It’s kind of a beautification project with a dash of street art and a whole lot of cool. I sat down with Paige to talk about her background, the project, and her plans for the future.
Portable: How did this urban street art project start for you?
Paige Smith: I was always interested in geology. I was that kid with a rock collection, who always thought I would be a scientist. I walk around or take my bike to get places, which is rare in this city. Within my own community, I started to notice these nooks and holes in the sides of buildings, walls, abandoned phone booths, and saw it as an opportunity to create.
P: And then it just took off from there?
Paige Smith: The geodes are based in science and mathematics. I did a ton of research on polyhedric shapes before I settled on eighteen shapes to recreate, entirely in paper. Each piece is measured to a specific degree and then placed in a cast. It is entirely site specific.
P: With any form of street art, there is sort of an impermanence to it, but you seem to have embraced that by using paper as your primary material. Does the temporary-ness of it all upset you?
Paige Smith: Not at all. I enjoy the juxtaposition between these organic shapes and the manmade buildings I place them in. I am much more interested in them falling apart and dissolving because of the weather; it’s their way of living and experiencing the city as well.
P: How do you want people to feel if they find one of these little gems while walking around Downtown?
Paige Smith: I want them to be excited! I would want them to feel some sense of wonder; like you’ve found a little treasure. They are beautiful and shiny, and often placed within deteriorating brick or a delapidated space. Unlike a lot of forms of art, you don’t have to understand anything to interact with them. It doesn’t take an art expert to appreciate the geode, it’s not overtly political, it really just takes a moment to look around you. I love tangible art, and I’m very tactile. I work as a freelance graphic designer, and I’m always making 3D paper type, creating intricate cuts into paper. Web design is my bread and butter, but there is nothing like making something with your hands.
P: If in a hundred years, one of your geodes is placed in a museum and people are analyzing its importance and message, what would you want them to take away from the experience?
Paige Smith: It is really about awareness. If you walk around or bike around the city, you already have a reward in getting to actively experience your community. These geodes are meant to be an extra reward, an added beautiful bonus for being aware. Take a moment and notice your surroundings. If my geodes could be a part of that revelation for anyone, I would be very happy.
P: What are your future plans and any dreams for this project?
Paige Smith: I recently planted my first geode internationally, in Mexico City, and I would love to continue to travel and make them. I have my first ever installation at The Standard Hotel in West Hollywood this upcoming Thursday and I’m very interested in doing more installation based work. Ideally, I would love to work with the city in some way, and make more permanent geodes under bridges or tucked into underpasses. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
The Urban Geode Project Installation Reception Party will be held at The Standard Hotel in West Hollywood on June 14th at 7pm. Please RSVP to [email protected] to attend.