RED TREES, started in the year 2000, and is in progress. A long-term project of 5 phases that memorializes our forests. This artwork conveys a sense of loss, the dynamic relationship between humans and the natural world, and the hope born of persistence.
Red fabric covered over 300 cut trees for one year and were bleached by the sun with impressions of the last breath of the tree. The "shrouds" have traveled from western to eastern locations in the US and have undergone years of transformation by interacting with life's essential elements; earth, sun, air, water and ether.
A patch of land in the northwestern United States was sold for its logging rights. In August 2000, phase I of Red Trees covered hundreds of stumps in the clear-cut with red fabric, revealing what is less disquieting when concealed.
The bright red fabric elicits the memory of the forest's lost grandeur by positioning each tree in the imagination. It also acts as a shroud for the deceased or a protective cloth for a wound.
The tree stumps remained shrouded for one year. During that time, the fabric changed through exposure to the elements.
In August 2001, over 300 'shrouds', returned to Chicago, each bearing the unique impression of an individual tree.
The nail pierced, torn, and sun-bleached fabric spoke of the vulnerability and value of all life, including human life.
In phase II of Red Trees, October 1st, 2001, the shrouds completely drape a great hall that accommodates many of them. Each shroud, fastened at the top, is blown by air currents that create a moving room.
My studio full of shrouds and a slight current of air contain records of death, yet breathes with life.
Destruction and loss are poignantly transformed into beauty.
In October 2002, Phase III of Red Trees, was erected as a public memorial to the forest for ten days. The shrouds were again exposed to the elements, interacting with the wind while hanging several stories high on the stand of a fully functional water tower, itself an icon, as most others in Chicago have been dismantled.
The shrouds were cut into irregular sizes, as opposed to evenly measured. On the water tower the shrouds needed to hang in varied widths from narrow to wide. 360 shrouds where needed to cover the watertower. 360 degrees is a perfect sphere.
At night, the Red Trees structure was lit from within. As a public installation, Red Trees becomes a beacon that reveals what often eludes us: the awareness of loss, yet the beauty and determination that can originate from confronting and acknowledging that which is lost.
In phase IV of Red Trees, fall of 2003, the shrouds that have been exposed to three natural elements; earth, sun, and wind are now exposed to water.
The shrouds were taken to the east coast to be cleansed in water from a pristine lake in Maine, thus linking the coasts via Chicago
The shrouds are washed at the water's edge in Penobscot territory. The location of Twin Lakes is actually one lake.
The first selected site, Rainbow Lake, was approachable only by plane or 14 mile hike, and owned by the corporation that runs the local paper mill and controls the water levels of the lakes.
The shrouds rest on the rocks to be dried by the sun.
100 Shrouds are selected and placed in a custom gold lined box. Learn more about My Crates, an installation project in progress.
In phase V, numerous "shroud" remnants are offered to the element of ether; described as air, or time, or what fills the space between us along Chicago's lakefront from spring 2005 thru early winter of 2006.
Around a mounded garden, enclosed by the triangle of three city streets and surrounded by the traffic, shroud pieces hang from 100 bamboo poles where they remain into the winter.
The remnants of fabric again travel through the seasons as the fabric softens, loosens, and dissipates the fibers slowly into the ether.
The different environments, (hidden wounded land, public place and serene setting) illustrate a progression and reveal the emotional trajectory of empathy, acknowledgment, and hope.
The Red Trees experience influences a larger project , a layered story called My Gamma Waves, that connects my art and creates new meaning, answering the question of why certain things are made.
First, I made a very large quilt.
The remaining fabric remnants are used to make books and artifacts for the installation, such as a scroll.
A page from The Story of Red Trees, a picture book filled with fabric collages. Learn more about my handmade books.
This satchel is made with Red Trees fabric and cloth that I dipped in the Onon river in Mongolia as part of the World Rivers Project.
A special case full of special ribbons to offer to others.