Excerpt of Introductory Essay to Exhibit By Iris Cushing
“The Wood for the Trees” asks us to consider the role trees play in human cultural history and the way they live amongst themselves, in the sublime situation of their own autonomy. Far from merely “humanizing” forests, the work in this exhibition seeks to honor the forests that we call home, on their own terms. The artists whose work is gathered here consider how the visual can be a method for offering this regard, respect, and reverence for forest ecosystems. In doing so, this exhibition creates a network of human connection, a call-and-response among artists and viewers. Within this communion is an essential recognition of the trees’ sovereignty, of the artists’ willingness to honor that sovereignty.
“The Wood for the Trees” also celebrates trees’ beauty, in all its complexity. It was the Norwegian deep ecologist Arne Naess whose work introduces the notion that organisms could be both simple and complex at the same time; that complication is a human problem, but complexity is an entirely natural condition. The works in this exhibition express this simple-complex beauty found in trees. Just as each of our native species in the Catskills has its own singular structure—from the lobed leaves of the sassafras, to the velvety catkins of the American pussy willow—each of these works presents an inimitable tree-story of its own.~