Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Recycling: Wood

I make a lot of physical art, when I make it, out of recycled or found materials. When I do a landscape art piece, for example, I use what I find lying at hand, as such pieces are site-specific and usually not pre-planned, but form themselves intuitively. I might use stones, or twigs, or sand, or leaves, or whatever else I find lying to hand.

During yesterday's high winds and rain, two branches from the fruit tree out back of my porch were torn down. THey brushed against the windows, and landed in the bushes. None of the roses were seriously damaged by being fallen on. This afternoon, when I was cleaning up the fallen, I sawed off a couple of segments of wood, to dry out and cure, and probably use later for other art projects. I also took some photos of the fallen branches, and of the wounds in the tree. Then I sealed up the wounds with pruning sealant; it's a beautiful tree with a spreading canopy, it provides me a lot of shade and privacy in summer on my porch, and it's otherwise healthy, so sealing the scars will hopefully prevent the tree from catching any diseases or suffering any further trauma, as winter sets in later this year.

I was inspired recently to think about incorporating woodworked pieces into my visual art. Perhaps by making an unfinished natural wood frame for a particular artwork. Perhaps also by incorporating sculpture into the wall-hung visual art, and maybe also weaving, making it into multimedia work. I know an artist in town who goes on hikes out in the fields, picks up fallen wood and sculpts it into beautiful polished bowls. In a recent gallery show, I saw a wall-hung piece that had a large round wooden shield hung next to a sepia-tined photo, all incorporated into a driftwood framework; the overall effect was emotionally resonant for me, almost shamanic. It's been making me think about doing something similar with my own art and materials.

I've always liked working with wood. I haven't done a lot of it, but there's something very emotionally satisfying about woodworking. My grandfather was a master carpenter and builder, and he taught me the basics of carpentry and woodworking when I was a boy. Given a few more tools, now that I have a big workbench area set up in the garage, it might be possible for me to do some actual carpentry and woodworking again. If time and weather permits, perhaps this autumn.

   Tree Tao

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