Similar to interpreting dreams, I have a hard time nailing down the reasons I make these pieces. I've felt differently throughout the past two years of working on them. Family, time, nature, procreation, death, childhood, fantasy, extinction, meditation. This series began after a road trip to the east coast in 2007. I was thinking about nature and the industrial world around us. I started daydreaming and envisioning nature taking back land and space that we've taken from it. Trees growing over playgrounds and highways, violently in some instances. The first drawings in this series were of trees wrapping around parking meters and swing sets with a feeling of sudden attack or surprise. Trees have such a gentle way of existing, and yet they have the ability to uproot sidewalks and destroy buildings over time.
Around the same time I started making this work, I was reading about elephants. The link between trees and elephants seemed too perfect. Skin that shows its wisdom and age, from time, weather and survival. Both have such commanding strength and power. Both share a sense of kindred family relationships. A desire to live closely among each other in herds or forests. Elephants return to the graveyards of their ancestors and slide their tusks and bodies over the bones of their deceased family. I find it’s reminiscent of trees wrapping and climbing the dead trunks of the neighboring trees to thrive and climb higher to reach new light and space above them.
These drawings have changed the way that I look and think about life around me. I see trees more as individual beings, experiencing periods of flourishing and periods of challenge. When I'm working on these pieces, I feel as though I get to be part of their life. Their limbs grow and fill out. Their family members emerge over time. Their skin ages as more lines are filled in. I like to think of these drawings like early scientific illustrations of things found in nature, before a photograph could serve as proof of a species. I want the viewer to feel like I may have stumbled upon this massive creature in the wild, sat down and documented its existence.