Monday, April 30, 2012

Tree of Life

I've been working for about 3 months on a piece for a show titled "Plight of the Pollinators" held by a gallery in Connecticut.  It is such a powerful concept, I was very inspired.

I have 3 different pieces in my mind, but, alas, only one made it out of my brain and into the world.  I still have the ideas, I hope to get them made.

I am so pleased with this piece called "Tree of Life".

It's about 22" in diameter.

Simple connections.  Safety pins, staples, needle and thread, pollinators and food complexity – simple connections un-noticed, un-remarked, un-celebrated.

This work is deeply rooted in the land where I live.  Wool was shorn from sheep grazing the next valley over, traded for herbal balms I create from my garden’s bounty.  Yarn spun by hand during cold winter nights, colored by gathered dyestuffs boiled in big pots during the summer.  Twigs and stones picked up off the ground, searching for just the right one.  The background cloth was dyed with iron red soil from our foothills.  The bees died in transit, a friend put a new hive on my land, and these did not survive the trip.  I loved making them a piece of my work.

My unifying thought was of the connections that seem simple, but are not.  Things like safety pins and staples are called simple connectors.  They bind things together when we ask them to and we don’t think too much about them.  We don’t realize the complexity of the systems that make and deliver such simple things.

In this piece, I use the deeply symbolic Tree of Life as the path of life from complexity to austerity.  Beginning at the top - alive with color, texture, bees – the beauty of life is shown.  Then comes where there are just the leaves, less color, less pollinators, less complexity.  Next the trunks of the trees – spare, simple, stark.  Finally the uncompromising rocks fastened with metal.   Barren, desolate, austere – what remains of our life without the pollinaptors.

I remember as a young engineering student in college the day I really understood that there was no mine or tree or plant that produced things like safety pins or nails.  I got that someone had to come up with the idea for the "thing" and then make a machine that ran well enough that I could buy this actually remarkably complex thing like a safety pin for fractions of a penny.

Simple, yes, but with under lying complexity.

If the bee die off is not understood and continues to increase, the potential changes to our lives will be profound.  Most likely there will still be food.  Much of our staple foods are actually wind pollinated.

But the stuff that makes life worth living, the bees and bats do the work.  Fruit, flowers, complexity.

The Tree of Life celebrates simple connections.  Simple but with deeply rooted complexity that takes time and attention to understand.  I hope we as the human species have the will to understand these simple connections and the will to make necessary changes.


VIV said...

Simply put - simply beautiful

Spike said...

Thank you! It's packed up now and on it's way to the show in CT. My wall is bare. I'm thinking of starting another version...