“Trees: an interdisciplinary dialogue” opened on Jan. 18, and a gallery talk was held last Thursday, Jan. 20. “Trees” is a celebration of the art, technology, and artifacts connected to our arboreal landscape.
The exhibition incorporates various medias and stories about trees from Northeastern Ohio and beyond, and also includes a display some of the work of students at the College
Featured in the gallery are: the story of the college’s Tree Endowment Program; a wooden table crafted by Wooster alumnus, John Wells ’87; information about dendrochronology, or tree ring analysis, gathered by Professor Greg Wiles’ Climate Change class; technological artifacts such as a 19th-century wooden water pipe; the Friends of Ohio Barns barn survey project; two student drawing assignments based on the tree form; a video about a work by the British artist David Nash OBE; and various paintings, prints, poetry and photographs.
Kitty Zurko, the museum director and curator, put the collection together with the help of four faculty consultants: Susan Clayton (psychology), Matthew Mariola (environmental studies), Greg Wiles (geology), and Walter Zurko (studio art). Zurko opened the gallery talk this evening by thanking her four faculty consultants ó although only one was able to attend thanks to the beautiful weather ó for patiently working through the obstacles of their different disciplines to create a cohesive exhibition for an art museum. But even with all the hassle, Zurko would definitely organize a show like this again, she said.
“A multi-disciplinary exhibition of this type,” Zurko said, “brings together multiple perspectives on one subject, while also demonstrates a core value of a Wooster education ó the integration of knowledge in a liberal arts setting.”
Each work of art is displayed thoughtfully and purposefully. The dark, gritty industrial tools and deep brown segments of wood stand out against the clean white background. A black iron auger is placed on the wall next to a graceful painting of a copse of trees.
A video is projected onto the back wall, and the sound of rustling leaves fills the room as if a spring day had suddenly descended upon the visitors. Although Trees may have lacked any actual live specimens, it more than made up for the deficit with creative representations of the many different ways trees function.
The atmosphere that the exhibit creates elegantly illustrates the subtle relationship between production, nature and art, a connection that we may rarely make otherwise. The student work showcase, which was highlighted at the gallery talk, also provides Wooster students with a rare opportunity to display their work in an artistic manner.
“Trees” is vibrant, elegant, and ó most importantly ó easy to relate to. The exhibition displays and celebrates these oft-overlooked resources and celebrates their importance to science, society, art and history.
“Trees: an interdisciplinary dialogue” will run until March 6 in the Sussel Gallery and the Burton D. Morgan Gallery of the Ebert Art Center. There will also be a luncheon held in the gallery on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at noon with Sara Patton, vice president for development, and Beau Mastrine, director of grounds, to discuss Wooster’s Tree Endowment Program.