I have four related tree sculpture concepts that I see as a series, all using plastics in one form or another as a metaphor to highlight the disturbing intersections of first world convenience and preservation of vital natural resources we all take for granted. Rampant consumerism and the desire for ever more conveniences juxtaposed with a universal symbol for life, trees.
Here are my additional design ideas in the series for Chicago Tree Project sculptures. Maybe I will get a chance to create them all!
This sculpture takes the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag we see caught in a tree limb to the ultimate extreme. I plan on completely covering a tree in bags from many sources (grocery stores, bog box chains, mom and pop shops, gas stations). The bags would be attached in different ways, some tightly and others loose to catch the wind and flutter, balloon out and make noise. The finished piece would look much like the blooms of invasive algae in the polluted coral reefs and hopefully have dramatic movement as well as interest as the wind and weather degrades it. The idea would be simple but impactful and hopefully drive home the point that our planet is becoming encapsulated in plastic.
Our fragile items are packaged in plastic air pockets to keep them from breaking but what about our precious trees? Damaged and dead, killed by climate change, so many trees are past saving. Using bubble wrap and plastic air pockets I plan on underscoring the fragility of our trees and that the damage is being caused by us.
Perishable consumables are commonly sealed in a thin layer of plastic to keep out bacteria and rot and prolong shelf life. It is so common to see meat, veggies, cheese and innumerable edible and non-edible products sealed for convenience and salability. So what of our trees, our lungs? They are perishable but sealing a dead or dying tree in layers of plastic interrupts the rot and decay that is a natural and essential stage of life for the tree. This sculpture’s intent is to underscore this artificial preservation we encounter daily.