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Urban Geodes Crystallize a Global Street Art Movement

Street art spreads like spores in Paige Smith's crowdsourced 'Urban Geodes' project.
Bali. Photos by Paige Smith unless otherwise noted

Gorgeous geodes have been popping up on cracks in walls and in alleyways all over the world, and they aren't the result of millions of years of pressure and crystalization. Rather, street artist Paige Smith, a.k.a. acommonname, has been "planting" them wherever she goes, transforming weathered buildings into mysterious geological formations. Recently, she showcased her work during Maker City LA, but over the past three years, her crystals have marked her growing international presence.


For the first year, Smith embedded her faux crystals throughout her travels, conducting anthropological studies of street art in LA, San Francisco, and more. She named the project Urban Geodes and began publishing their documentation on her blog. The project grew beyond her physical reach when she began crowdsourcing the pieces by sending them to local artists in Jordan, Turkey, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, France, and Italy, who installed them on roadsides and in storefronts in her stead. "People had been writing me from all over the world requesting I bring the art to them. I had the idea to send it to them so they could participate and curate the art in their own cities," she tells The Creators Project.

Her technique has improved over time, developing from papercraft polyhedrons to cast resin sculptures that look and feel almost like the geological structures they emulate. "The resin pieces are individual polyhedra as well as pre-made clusters," she explains. "This enables me to create pieces on the fly and to have more resilient geodes that last a bit longer—although I definitely expect them all to expire, sometimes rather quickly."

The transience of the street art installations are part of their beauty, since few of the Urban Geodes on her site can still be found in their original locations. This may, in part, be due to the areas she targets: "I try to choose areas that have a lot of graffiti already, or look like they don’t have much upkeep," she says. This thread links regions like Turkey and South Korea to Los Angeles. She continues, "The cities I’ve visited have differed quite a bit in the way the streets are treated, but they do often have the commonality of decay and crumbling infrastructures."


At this point, she's traveled to Spain, Bali, and Instanbul, as well as cities across the United States, installing "hidden gems" in secret places that inspire her. Check out Smith's Urban Geodes below, and if you want to install one in your city, email her here or visit her project page.


Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Yagmar Ruzgar

Amman, Jordan. Photo by Zina Hammad

Find more of Smith's work on her website.


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