Breathe - CODAworx


Submitted by Dave MacKenzie


Client: The B.O.B.

Location: Grand Rapids, MI, United States

Completion date: 2015

Project Team


Dave MacKenzie



Mike Haynes



Living graphic art utilizing food- and annual-plants as paint. 3500 plants made up the design on this 1400 square foot installation. The work was featured in ArtPrize 2014 and placed in the top 20 of 1500 entries. This project makes a direct statement, but also some symbolism. The green patterns, above and below, represent fields and forest. And, the yellow in the upper right symbolizes the sun, which fuels photosynthesis, which yields O2 (oxygen). This vital process occurs within leaves, and for this reason I featured leaf shaped graphics of native trees, on the north and west facing surfaces.


The goals of this project were to convey the message that living plants have a place in our constructed world; they infuse beauty, connect us to nature, and provide the very oxygen that we breathe. There is an intellectual challenge that was put to the public, asking them to ponder how we choose to live--whether connected to nature or separated from it. Oxygen, obviously we can't do without, but natural surroundings bring more than that--better health and more tranquility for sure, Also, I think, an easier path to having a sense of our Creator, and an awareness of our true selves.


As the Artist I collaborated with the property owner and colleagues who are adept at general trades (carpentry, plumbing and electrical). I also collaborated with the growers who grew the plant material for this project.

Additional Information

This project was well received by the public, which seemed to connect with the message and the medium. I elicited a lot of emotion from its viewers, and it seemed to draw people in, sort of like butterflies to a flower. Countless people used it as a backdrop to selfies and group photos, and for the 5 or 6 weeks that it was up, it was constantly showing up on all of the social media sites.