The Farley Center Tree Carving Project is a collaborative effort. A storm destroyed an oak tree, but left behind a 10-foot-tall trunk. This created the opportunity for a collaborative art installation. The trunk has been divided by three carved vines into panels. Each panel is an opportunity for an artist to use and transform by carving, painting or attaching works of art.
As the oak is rooted in the land, we chose the theme of Rooted in the Land for the tree carving project.
For 2021, I chose to reproduce the Burr Oak from the Welcome Center on a large front facing panel. Trees have a root system that is unseen, but is as extended in the ground as the top is in the air. I have carved the Burr Oak in relief above the ground line and the roots are incised below. I also used thinned acrylic paints and linseed oil.
Which is the more important part, the seen or the unseen? Really the tree is an interdependent system. Some ask if the earth is more important than the people or are people more important than the earth. Are we not also interdependent and part of a system of life?
My participation in the Earth Dance 2019 environmental art show is to continue to work on the Farley Tree Project.
The tree is a 10 foot trunk of a fallen oak tree. After some planning, we settled on using carved vines to divide the tree surface into distinct panels that artists can use to create pieces that fit the title: Rooted in the Land.
Outdoor art is a challenge on several levels. The weather limits when work can be done. Even so, after stripping off the mark and making a grid on the trunk, I was able to transfer the vine drawing onto the trunk. Then began the work of carving in the vines. This process is about half way done. I plan to have all the vines finished and painted by the onset of winter.
On testing the tree for the quality of the wood, I discovered that one of the areas is relatively soft. This lead to idea of attaching woodpeckers at that level. I chose Red Headed woodpeckers for two reasons. They are native to Wisconsin and tend to like to roost in the standing trunks of dead trees. The other reason is that these birds are declining in their population. This is thought to result from the smaller number of available dead trees left standing on private property. The other reason is that these birds will sometimes chase after insects right into traffic.
Woodcarving often uses products that are not environmental. So I created a stain for the red heads using beets and beet greens. The black color is from soaking steel wool in vinegar.
I am working on developing a good green color, but that has not as yet been successful. I have collected some walnuts and want to create a brown stain from those.
The tree itself is sealed for now with a coating of linseed oil. It will be interesting to see how the colors weather.
There are plenty of panels available if you would like to participate in the project. Here is a link to the simple application. Artists Proposal