Found and Lost

An ash tree marked for felling in Platteville, WI

“A functionally extinct species may still exist but has declined so much that the population is no longer viable.”

What slips by our collective awareness when the rest of the world is on fire?  If a butterfly, or a bird reached functional extinction, would it have drawn more attention? I pull at the threads that connect all things and reach the end of one thread at the ash tree. From there I conduct my usual dance of dissection, examination, and artistic reconstruction. I create sculptures that draw attention to the tree’s journey in an attempt to preserve a piece of its existence before it is lost forever.

The heart of my work shines a light on the loss of the Ash tree due to the Emerald Ash Borer.  I’ve gathered trunks, slabs, and branches from felled ash and peeled the bark away to expose the borers’ calling card: beautiful, curvaceous galleries etched by the borers’ progeny. Inspired by the Japanese art of Kintsugi, I’ve embraced the wood’s flaws and imperfections in an effort to reveal a stronger, more honest interpretation. In place of broken pottery, I gather pieces of broken ash trees. In place of gold, I bind the spirit of the ash with sister woods: mahogany, walnut, cherry, oak and hickory.

As my work has evolved, I have begun to incorporate found wooden antiquities into my pieces. These items are beautiful in their craftsmanship and functionality, but long since discontinued for more easily produced ware. To me, their functional extinction mirrors that of the ash tree.

As an artist, I can shine a light on the darkness of a situation…  I can also shine a light from within the darkness, revealing the beauty that exists in spite of the situation. Beauty, inherently, must exist.