Art for the soul and your lungs

Spanish art collective Boa Mistura have created a 35m-tall mural that purifies the air.

The fight against global warming and climate change has nearly taken over every aspect of our lives…and rightly so. As a result we’re encouraged to reduce and recycle our waste, use more sustainable sources of energy as well as rethink industrial practices that are harming the earth.

Countries who have excessively high rates of carbon emissions are placed on watch lists and agreements are signed to reduce the carbon footprint of these nations.

One of these countries is Mexico. Mexico is on the top 20 list of countries with the highest carbon emissions per capita. While they have made large strides in reducing this rate over the years a lot still needs to be done to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

Absolut Street Trees

To help tackle this issue in a more creative way Spanish art collective, Boa Mistura, painted a 35m-tall tree with the words “Soy Porque Somos” (I am because we are) in the heart of Mexico City.

The mural, commissioned by the Absolut Trees Project, was inspired by the Árboles de la vida (Trees of life), clay sculptures commonly made by artisans from central Mexico.

“They are part of the identity of the Mexican people, very present in the imagery of the country,” says Pablo Purone, a member of the Boa Mistura art collective.

Absolut Street Trees

According to Purone, these trees of life have been used to tell the history of the country. From the first sculptures, in an early colonial period, that spoke of the history of creation, to more current crafts that speak of the duality between life and death or the relationship of man with the natural world.

The phrase “Soy Porque Somos” was chosen to “remind us that in the differences between human beings is the essence. We are all unique beings, we shine individually with our differences, our rarities, our shortcomings and our virtues,” says Purone.

Boa Mistura, Cape Town

Besides the cultural significance of the tree, the mural itself functions much like that of a tree, whereby it purifies the surrounding polluted air.

The mural has been painted using Airlite paint and through a process similar to that of photosynthesis, the paint is capable of turning harmful gases like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx) into harmless mineral salts.

The Airlite paint is capable of reducing surrounding odours, is bacteria resistant, mould resistant, repels airborne dirt and dust as well as reduces the amount of solar heat absorbed by buildings by 29%.

Boa Mistura, Cape Town

Avenida de la Reforma was the street chosen to place this incredibly large mural. According to Purone this sight was the ideal spot to plant their tree because Avenida de la Reforma is one of the main arteries of Mexico City, a space that witnesses the annual movement of about 60 000 cars.

Two other murals created by Mexican artists Revost and Seher One are set to go up in the Mexican city as well.

Some of the work of Boa Mistura has been featured on the city streets of Cape Town's District Six and Woodstock areas. 

We spoke to the art collective in 2016, where they explained how their journey started as an art collective and how their "good mixture" led to them creating art that inspires change. Watch it below: 

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