December 22, 2010
David Nash’s “Ash Dome” (1998) is part of The College of Wooster Art Museum's exhibition titled, “Trees: an interdisciplinary dialogue,” which runs Jan. 18 through March 6.
WOOSTER, Ohio — The College of Wooster Art Museum will be transformed into an arboretum of sorts when “Trees: an interdisciplinary dialogue” opens on Jan. 18. The exhibition, which runs through March 6 in the Sussel Gallery and the Burton D. Morgan Gallery of Ebert Art Center (1220 Beall Ave.), explores the many roles of trees in society — from providing refuge to serving as a fuel source to recording climatic changes — through art, science, and material culture.
“In a town designated as a ‘Tree City’ with a college campus populated by thousands of trees, we thought this was a topic that suited Wooster well,” said Kitty Zurko, director of The College of Wooster Art Museum. “We saw the exhibition as a way to bring students, faculty, and community members together on a common topic that we all experience daily.”
The exhibition will feature works by noted contemporary artists Robert Voit, Joan Nelson, David Nash, April Gornik, and Anthony Luensman. There will also be an assortment of prints from Wooster’s John Taylor Arms Print Collection, as well as student drawings and photographs of campus trees. In addition, dendroclimatic (dating) research on Sonnenberg Village in nearby Kidron by students in Greg Wiles’ Climate Change class will be on display, along with information about Wooster’s geology tree-ring lab. Other components will include information about the College’s Tree Endowment Program, the Friends of Ohio Barns Wayne County survey project, and a table crafted from reclaimed urban trees by the Seattle-based company Meyer/Wells.
Among the many aspects of the exhibition, a video chronicling the growth of the British sculptor David Nash’s “Ash Dome,” may be the most compelling as it follows the artist’s 33-year labor of love in transforming 22 ash trees into a living work of art. Influenced by the Land Art movement of the 1960s, Nash used a process known as fletching to push limbs and branches to grow in a certain direction — in this case to form a dome in the woods on the artist’s property in Wales.
Also of interest is Robert Voit’s “New Trees,” a series of color photographs that appear to represent real trees, but are actually cell-phone towers disguised as trees to blend in with the landscape. Trees are generally regarded as symbols of “shelter, solidity, and the incorruptibility of nature,” yet the trees that Voit captures with documentary-like clarity are decidedly disingenuous.
In addition, John Wells, a 1987 College of Wooster graduate, and Seth Meyers present “Console Table,” a maple-top unit constructed from urban trees located within a 10-mile radius of their business in downtown Seattle. According to Wells, these trees are “uniquely human” because they have been subjected to an environment fraught with human interaction. Many of the trees were in poor health, but Wells and Meyers removed them from the campus of Seattle Pacific University so they could be put to good functional use. Their efforts were chronicled this past summer in a New York Times story, titled “Finding New Life (and Profit) in Doomed Trees.”
The exhibition’s opening reception will take place on Thursday, Jan. 20, from 6-8 p.m. with a gallery talk at 7 p.m. by students in Wiles’ Climate Change Class. There will also be a luncheon in the gallery on Wednesday, Feb. 2, at noon with Sara Patton, vice president for development, and Beau Mastrine, director of grounds, discussing Wooster’s Tree Endowment Program. Established in 1987 through a $300,000 challenge grant, the endowment supports tree conservation, maintenance, and replacement of nearly 3,000 trees in the College’s “urban forest.”
The faculty advisors for the exhibition were Susan Clayton (psychology), Greg Wiles (geology), Matthew Mariola (environmental studies), and Walter Zurko (studio art). The exhibition is supported, in part, by a grant from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation in Hudson, Ohio.
The College of Wooster Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. All receptions, lectures, exhibitions, and performances are free and open to the public. Group and class tours are also available. For more information, call 330-263-2388 or visit the Museum's website.
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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