My wire tree sculptures have two related beginnings. I became interested in Sacred Tree imagery while attending Jewish Theological Seminary of America, during one of my final classes called "Art, Archaeology, and Iconography of Ancient Israel." For that class I had to do a 40 minute presentation with a partner, as well as a 20 page paper on Sacred Tree imagery.
The main text that I was looking at for my research was Mariana Giovino's excellent "The Assyrian Sacred Tree: A History of Interpretations" printed by Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis in 2007, which discusses the magnificent so-called Assyrian Sacred Tree. The AST comes in several forms, but the one as shown in the above link is absolutely majestic in its ornate detail. Being drawn very much to the visual treat that it was to look at, I decided that I wanted to do my own Sacred Tree drawings, and possibly sculptures.
Not long after completing my masters at JTS, my wife asked me to do a tree drawing for her that she would then embroider. The final drawing appears to the left (and larger here). The texts around the outside of the tree are Genesis 2:9 (the English here is NJPS), "And from the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and bad" in Hebrew, and Revelation 22:2b (the English here is ESV) "...also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" in Greek. My favorite colors to work in are black and red, so I decided to add a touch of red up the middle of the tree. Two to three months after that, I made my first wire tree sculpture, which I came to call Sacred Tree #1. From the drawing, I added one red wire to the tree, which is meant to symbolize the 'sacred' - in whatever form that may take.
Since then, I've done a series of 100 Sacred Trees, as well family trees, wedding trees, tree necklace holders, a Tree of Life, and I'm 33 trees into my indefinite tree series (indefinite in the sense that it will not be a number-limited series like my 100 Sacred Tree series) for a combined total of near 150 tree sculptures (and believe me, my fingers are feeling it!).
I think what I've enjoyed the most about the trees is seeing how they've changed over the course of my making them. I find my first tree to be almost laughable now, but when I first made it I was very, very proud of it. Here is Sacred Tree #1 next to Sacred Tree #100, which is the best way to show the progress:
And here Sacred Tree #1 is next to my most recent tree, Tree #33:
Finally, here's a group shot that shows a variety of trees, including trees from both my Sacred Tree series, and my indefinite tree series:
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