Arkansas Botanic Artist Fined $10,000 For Toilet Installation

Photo: Courtesy Flickr.
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain (1917). Photo: Tate.

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain (1917).

An Arkansas-based botanic artist is facing a $10,000 fine from local authorities. The reason? Her very public predilection for toilets.

Retired Air Force sergeant Tonie Atkinson’s preferred artistic medium is, as local CBS affiliate THV11 so eloquently states it, “potted plants in potties.” She has transformed her yard into what she calls a “toilet farm” filled with vintage porcelain thrones overflowing with lush greenery.

“Just because you can’t appreciate it,” Atkinson says, “doesn’t mean it’s not art.” Atkinson’s neighbors, unfortunately, do not agree with this sentiment.

Inspectors in Garland County reportedly cited Atkinson in April 2015 for what they call “appliance and yard waste.” A hearing is slated for October.

The toilet, of course, has an art historical significance that dates back to Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 readymade Fountain—which, you may recall, wasn’t all the rage in its time either. And Atkinson is far from the only contemporary artist who is preoccupied with toilets. In 2014, Claudio Ahlers transformed a public toilet in Bristol into an art installation, prompting artnet News to wonder: “Is Toilet Art Having a Moment?

Luckily, the Arkansas artist with the unenlightened neighbors isn’t giving up: “I still got more toilets coming,” she said. “I’ll probably be working on it 10 years from now.”

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