The Chicago Tree Project (CTP) is a collaborative initiative between the Chicago Park District and Chicago Sculpture International. The CTP is an annual citywide effort to transform sick and dying trees into vibrant public art rather than cutting them down. Using art as a vessel for public engagement, sculptors transform trees into fun and whimsical experiences for the greater Chicago community. Each year, twelve new trees are installed throughout the city. A complete map and more information can be found at www.chicagotreeproject.org
Artist's Statement: De-constructed Monument represents a Corinthian column that has partially come apart and reverted to nature, as shown by the remaining bark. Starting with the capital, or top portion, the spiral of one of the volutes (the objects supporting the flat tops) has unraveled, and one of the acanthus pieces (the flower-like objects) is lower than the other three, giving the appearance that it has come loose. The figurative details on the tree are bas-relief fragments of a king and a queen, each with accompanying crowns. All of these details communicate the idea that empires fall and nature prevails.
Materials/Methods: This honey locust had been reduced to a single 15’ shaft before I started working on it. I debarked the top three feet (for the Corinthian capital) and several areas farther down the tree. For the capital, I installed three flat pieces that sit on top of the tree, four carved volutes (made of cedar and white oak) underneath the flat pieces and four carved acanthus details, made of white oak. Two of the flat pieces are made of cedar; the very top piece is made of aluminum, to protect the cedar from rotting. For the other tree details, I made a few pieces out of white oak, and I also carved directly into the tree.
Log Bench is a sculpture that serves as a viewing seat for De-constructed Monument, a tree sculpture twenty feet away from it that was created the year before. The two sculptures are connected in several ways. The most obvious is the fact that they are both logs that have been added to and carved into. But they are also similar in that they both contain figurative fragments—the face parts in the tree sculpture and the arms on the bench. One of these arms is holding a squirrel. Whether this is a warm or aggressive gesture is not clear and represents our often ambivalent relationship to nature.