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?
I have finished “The Seer” in time for the show at Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison.
The concept was to think about the long hope of the ancient Hebrew believers. This is the head of a prophet. Another word for prophet is “Seer”.
I think of this as Isaiah, because we read so much from Isaiah in the Advent Season.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 ESV
The prophet sees in the distant sky a star, representing the hope for redemption. His white hair and beard show that the wait was long. The star prefigures the Christmas Star found in Matthew 2. And I like to think of the Magi, star gazers, as being on the other end of the message. The Seer lives in hope and the Magi set out on a journey of discovery.
Here are some images of the process of the carving. I used a method of shallow relief. The wood is butternut. The piece is 27 x 17 inches and about 3/4 inch thick. I left the living edge because the wood itself has a story of growth over years and bark for enduring the elements.
I have been thinking about a carving that suggests Hope in Advent. I went through a lot of very complicated iterations until I hit on the idea of the Prophet as Seer, looking into the night sky to see a special star. The prophet will have a long lyrical beard, suggesting time.
I submitted two carvings to the Eco Squared show at Hatch Art House on Willy Street here in Madison. The art is to contain upcycled or recycled elements. I took some of the wood I received at the Urban Forest Fest. This is a slab of wood cut from an Ash tree that was knocked down by a tornado. Ash us a very strong and fibrous wood, not typically used in carving. I discovered that it can be carved while it is still green. In hardwoods, it counts as green for the first year or so.
The two pieces I submitted are an ash branch showing fall colors and the second is of the emerald ash borer. The irony of the insect is that it is quite a lovely intruder as bugs go.
Showing at Hatch Art House starting January 9. Opening reception January 9 from 6-9pm.
It started with a summer storm. Severe winds tore through the East side of Madison and downed a number of trees. Three of these were saved and taken to the Urban Wood Fest to show how fallen wood can be saved and used. That is where I acquired a slab of ash. This tree came from Hudson Park which features a burial mound. As I walked around the park, I saw other trees, and the mound crowded with prairie plants, carefully not mown down by the city parks workers.
An ancient tribe came here and built these mounds, we are not sure what for exactly. Another park nearby has a bear and a lynx mound. The one at Hudson is not easily identifiable. Just as these visitors found something to commemorate, I remember a previous visit along the shore. We were canoeing between the Yahara and Olbrich park when we saw a blue heron along the shoreline.
I was able to find photographs of the blue heron and so developed this design. I chose to represent the heron in shallow relief, and to develop the color and life of the bird with several layers of thinned acrylic paint. This is the result. I think it is a fitting use for the ash wood that was blown into my way.
TheCapital Area Carvers and the Badger Wood Turners have a show annually. This year it is located at the Abundant Life Christian School in Madison. I am working on two carving projects. The first is a blue heron made from wood harvested near the lake by Hudson Park. This ash tree was knocked down in a storm and was harvested and sawn into planks at the Urban Wood Fest on Atwood Avenue. I took a look around at the mound and the location and remembered seeing a blue heron on the lake edge. So this this is as far as I have gotten. I am working on the painting scheme.
outlining with V tool
The second is a Santa – this as an unfinished block of basswood and I was told it was intended to be a Santa coming down the chimney. This is what resulted. Along with other club members carvings, this will be for sale at the show.