This assemblage tells the story of a fictional group, The Society to Preserve Trees. A decade ago, I read an article about the accelerating extinction of several species of trees. The idea that trees could become extinct began to occupy my thoughts on walks in the woods. I looked at the familiar trees that I loved in a new way, much like you gaze at a dear relative recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. Each pine cone, piece of bark, seed, leaf, branch suddenly needed to be cherished even more. The forest had often been my place of refuge and these trees…they were my family.
I travelled around the United States for 5 years for work and in my spare time, searched for interesting trees. I photographed them in a portraiture style to capture their beauty and uniqueness. Small printed images of my photographs are inserted in old specimen trays. Pieces of trees, seeds and mosses collected on my journeys are in petri dishes and lab tubes. A fictional group called the Society to Preserve Trees was created for another assemblage and I used that as a basis for this piece. A tool box from the 1940’s serves to hold the laboratory findings of the Society.
On the door of the case is what is left of the Jeffrey Pine Tree that Ansel Adams photographed in 1940 at Sentinel Dome in Yosemite Valley. It was still majestic when I found it, but now its position reminded me of the pose held by the woman in Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth. It seemed a fitting photo for the place of honor in the Tree Lab.