The Tree Of Life
Today’s picture is of a piece I made during a terrible winter spell several years ago. My daughter had treated me to a trip to a Shaker village in Hancock, MA, and I had taken note of the tree of life motif that decorated much of what was in the gift shop. In fact, I bought a table runner from Acorn with that design. When I came to create my own work on this theme, however, the thought struck me that, to properly depict this subject, a tree from outside of it or before it was not appropriate.This is not how we see the tree of life. We see it from inside the branches, I reasoned.
I formed a plank of walnut 19 inches wide and around 30 inches long and 1 and ½ inches thick. Doing so, I found a negative space in the wood that suggested to me a bird landing in the tree. I originally backed this space with a curly maple piece with a piece of colored glass in it, but it seemed to me to take away the mystery of the bird to some degree. I took some curly maple flecks and placed them around the bird’s landing space, suggesting to me light being made by the touch of its claws. Next, I took some bloodwood pieces and spelled out in Hebrew (across the top) Thou shalt not kill and (across the bottom) I am the LORD your God. To suggest the movement of the bird, I had these disturbed as though by the air blowing. Finally, I added colored glass fragments (12 of them) scattered around and suggesting the Biblical number 12 (tribes, apostles, etc.)
The entire piece is meant to convey the close nature of the intellectual, physical, social and spiritual in our lives. When I go outside and view a tree, I am seeing an entity which has life because it does. It gets what it can and lives accordingly. This is life, our life, portrayed in nature to me.