Signals

PLA Resin, Silk, Wood, Ink—2018

In a woodland ecosystem, flighted animals seek new perches when a tree falls. Microbes, fungi, and invertebrates receive notice that it’s their turn to move in, to transform death into a place for new life.

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This work was created during a New England fall season when life ends for many beings.

Part I

The sculpting process for this work began with a stump I kept noticing on weekly forest walks.  The artifact was brought home & washed thoroughly. After drying for days in the bright sun, I cradled the root in my lap, carefully cleaning what could be saved & removing any parts that were beyond recognition. The surface was coated with black India ink as a final dressing.

Part II

I traced intricate details of fallen branches and leaves with my 3D pen in hand. Pure silk thread was simultaneously woven into the resin using my other hand, wherever structural strength was needed to support the sculpture forms. Many true to form leaf sculptures were created using this method. I also shaped hybrid-like objects from foliage to mimic the essence of a human cranium with vertebrae, and lungs.

The funerary ritual of processing this arboreal artifact provided me with a productive way to move through grief. During this work I felt connected to Nature’s seasons and was reminded of her inexhaustible design that includes the renewal of all things in time. On September 2, 1869, John Muir described what I interpret as a related belief while composing Nature Writings in Yosemite National Park:

…when we look into any of her operations that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. It is eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unspendable wealth of the universe, and faithfully watch and wait the reappearance of everything that melts and fades and dies about us…