In deepest Wisconsin winter, on a bitterly cold day in the middle of February, on the seventh floor of a massive concrete building in the middle of a busy city block, I walked through a wispy, ethereal forest.
700 trees planted neatly in seven rows. Or rather 700 trees suspended neatly in seven rows.
The arborist is my nephew, Ian VanDeventer Chandler — “Ian Van D.” The forest is his breathtaking graduate thesis project.
You know what a rubbing is, right? It’s where are you take a thin piece of paper, place it on a textured surface and then rub graphite, charcoal or a crayon on the paper to capture an impression of the texture underneath. It’s a fun, cool thing to do with things like tombstones or manhole covers. Or, in the case of my nephew, an eight-foot walnut board.
In a Herculean effort, he took a roll of tissue paper and chunks of graphite and rubbed 700 impressions of that walnut board.
Then he took 700 clippings of twine, tied each into a loop about a foot in diameter, and attached the top of each tissue paper rubbing to a loop of twine. Then he suspended the 700 paper rubbings from a grid of rope 8 1/2 feet above the floor.
And created a forest unlike any other I have known. Yet also created a arboretum that feels utterly familiar to me. A moving, ghostly gossamer forest of paper, graphite, twine and heart.
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Stay safe. Be kind.
Peace on Earth.
~ Dawn Chandler
Santa Fe , New Mexico
Free from social media since 2020