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Wendy Ketchum: The inspiration for this series began with a death on my farm – a century old wild apple tree had been uprooted in a late winter storm. It was holding on by a few roots, and despite being tipped over onto the ground it persisted in sprouting leaves and a few apple blossoms in the spring. I was surprised by just how much its downfall affected me, almost as if I had lost an old, dear friend. The resilience demonstrated by its persistence in hanging onto life was inspiring to me, and reminded me of our own resilience in dealing with life’s struggles.
There are a few more of these surviving ancient apple trees on our property, most having fallen victim to heart decay, strangulation by bittersweet vines, blight by opportunistic fungi, and slow consumption by predatory organisms like worms and beetles. Yet, they continue to stand like sentinels against life’s challenges.
I chose woodcut as the most appropriate medium for these monoprints, utilizing wood with a prominent grain to mimic the bark of the tree. Some of the carved blocks were used in conjunction with plastic plates to achieve a slightly different more painterly effect, especially in creating the background layer. Each print was built up by applying more and more layers with multiple blocks and plates to create complexity. By allowing the process and element of surprise to dictate the printing, I was trying to respond creatively to each layer in the evolution of the print.