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.

Detail of N 700 Scarecrow County art installation by artist Ian VanDeventer Chandler. Photo by artist Dawn Chandler.
Detail of N 700 Scarecrow County art installation by artist Ian VanDeventer Chandler. Photo by artist Dawn Chandler.
Detail of N 700 Scarecrow County art installation by artist Ian VanDeventer Chandler. Photo by artist Dawn Chandler.
Ian VanDeventer Chandler's artist statement for N. 700 Scarecrow County.

If you are unable to view the embedded videos, try viewing this page in a different browser,
or view the videos individually via these links directly on Vimeo: Ian’s Forest 01 & Ian’s Forest 02

The artist glimpsed through paper trees of N 700 Scarecrow County art installation by artist Ian VanDeventer Chandler. Photo by artist Dawn Chandler.
N 700 Scarecrow County art installation by artist Ian VanDeventer Chandler. Photo by artist Dawn Chandler.

Artist Dawn Chandler in her Santa Fe studio.

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Stay safe. Be kind.

Peace on Earth.

~ Dawn Chandler

Santa Fe , New Mexico
Free from social media since 2020