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CC White: “Paint, these need paint,” was my first thought when looking at these 3 pieces of wood. And suddenly they became not just “pieces of wood”, but parts of trees again—once pines, standing tall and straight in the forest, with their dark green branches whipping in the wind, then, after reaching an age of 80 or 90 years, cut down to become floor boards and window sills and door jambs, and more. Trees that in their death became something else, even perhaps something utilitarian and beautiful, but still something other than their life’s purpose. These trees no longer hold carbon safely in the earth, no longer are home for chick-a-dees, insects, lichen and squirrels, no longer provide shade for ferns, moss and mushrooms, no longer drop cones, needles and branches to slowly rot and become part of the matted, woody debris that is the living forest floor. I mourn this loss, while at the same time I walk on those wide pine board floors, open and close the windows, and go in and out the doors. I am part of the problem. And I am only one of millions who, without a thought, use these resources that Nature provides. And we don’t give back. And we have lost the rituals by which we used to give thanks for this amazing abundance.
Our Earth is in crisis: she is drying up, burning up, and washing away, all at the same time. Ben Kilham took in 66 orphaned baby bears last winter. Millions of people are dying from cancer, often caused by man-made toxins. Major populations of bees are threatened, whales are nearing extinction , and the whole earth is experiencing an accelerated extirpation of non-human life. Indigenous peoples in the north are losing their ways of life as caribou are losing their migration routes, all because of extreme, rapid warming in the Artic.
In the meantime, I hover somewhere between despair, fury, and sloth, unsure where to place my energies. I read mysteries. I eat chocolate. And I paint. I paint my fears. I paint my dreams. I paint my visions. This installation is such a vision: a monument for trees, the markers made from trees in order to honor what once was, and to apologize for my own part in the realm of human activity. I remind myself that I am part of the problem.