Our forests are full of trees and our homes are furnished and decorated with wood. It’s the link between the two that an exhibition at the Lower Columbia College Art Gallery explores.
“The Meaning of Wood” is designed to provoke thinking into the process and significance of trees, according to Suze Woolf, the Seattle artist who organized the exhibition.
On another level, the collection of more than 50 artworks is an entertaining collection of artistry ranging from elegant to whimsical.
Woolf has been assembling the collection for more than a year. She contacted artists, telling them “I wasn’t looking for tree pictures, of which there are plenty, but for the transition from tree to wood.
“I tried to find a wide variety of points of view — some are tongue-in-cheek, some are serious,” Woolf said.
After its showing here, the exhibition will go on to Olympia and at least one other location, she said.
One of the largest works tells the overall message well: a wooden picket fence by Lee Imonen of Eugene, Ore., seems to grow out of a stump. The whole piece was carved out of one piece of wood.
Another work, “Walking Root” by the Seattle artist who goes by Peppe, appears to celebrate the beauty found in nature. It’s a ornately twisted cherry tree root, though Woolf said sanding and staining altered it quite a bit from the original.
From a distance, “Last Stand: Douglas Fir 2” looks like a real stump. The work by Karen Rudd of Port Townsend is actually made of tightly wound layers of recycled cardboard.
Mary Coss of Seattle etched the names of 400 of her ancestors onto a piece of twisting red pine. “I was interested in the idea of a rib,” with reference to the Adam and Eve story, she said at the exhibition opening this week.
Karen Hackenberg of Port Townsend created “Deep Dish Ecology,” a miniature farming scene, out of match sticks and plastic toy animals. The artist wrote that “suggesting the cycle of exploitation and depletion of natural resources, my matchstick sculptures imply an imminent risk.” In any case, it’s a clever piece of work.
Sheri Kopp of Seattle uses only cast-off materials for her works, two of which address the transitions of forests. One is a tree-shaped sculpture made from cardboard toilet paper tubes. Kopp’s other work is an 80 “tree” forest made of plastic bottle parts. They’re meant to raise the question “would they be the preserved forest,” she said.
Several photographers’ works are also displayed.
John Tylczak of Olympia used a 4- by 5-inch negative camera to make a silver print of Darrell Harris working for DeBraie Logging in Cowlitz County.
Kirk Jones of Portland was driving out Highway 26 to the Oregon coast one day when he spotted a home curiously surrounded by a clearcut. Jones used a GigaPan camera to record 65 images that he assembled into one finely detailed horizontal portrait that poses a question: Which came first, the house or the clearcut?