Into the Trees

2008 Group Exhibition

On View: June - November 2008
Curated by Lilly Wei and Amy Lipton

Exhibiting artists: Polly Apfelbaum, Sanford Biggers, caraballo-farman, Elizabeth Demaray, Stephen Dean, Katie Holten, Jason Middlebrook, Alan Michelson, Cordy Ryman, Shinique Smith, Chrysanne Stathacos and Saya Woolfalk.

The exhibition title is borrowed from Ernest Hemingway's novel, Across the River and Into the Trees and functions descriptively. A site-specific, open-ended project, it is as much – if not more- focused on the idea of a fixed point and the proliferation from that point as a metaphor for the creative process as it is on environmental issues. Into the Trees is interested in how each participating artist, given a tree as a common element and initial stimulus, will arrive at an innovative, utterly individual resolution.

For Into the Trees, eight artists have been invited to select a living tree from the 100-acre site of the Fields Sculpture Park at Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, New York. The artists will work with their tree on a site-specific installation and must therefore take into consideration the temporality of their construction and materials as well as the natural surroundings and are asked not to harm the tree, the only restriction. 

Polly Apfelbaum

Green Thoughts in a Green Shade, 2008, glass, frame, pencil and watercolor on paper

Polly Apfelbaum's works tend to create the sense of viewing both a painting and a sculpture. This small watercolor painting depicts an object hanging off of a branch, enclosed between glass with a waterproof frame. It was installed high into a tree and attached to the bark, and one would most certainly have to look in order to find it. Her other works are similar in concept but different in media, often expanding as paintings which carpet the floor as an installation.


Green Thoughts in a Green Shade, 2008

Sanford Biggers

Cheshire, 2007, single channel color video

In the gallery, Sanford Biggers exhibited Cheshire, a video sequence where, in turn, a different black male dressed in his work uniform climbs- or attempts to climb- a tree: a fencer in white knickers; a dentist in scrubs; a lawyer in a suit. Tree-climbing as a stand-in for social climbing, its darker reference is to strange fruit, depicting according to the artist, "black men hanging out in trees, as opposed to being hung from them". To watch the video, click here.

Cheshire, 2007 (video still)


The Private Lives Of Trees, 2008, CCTV camera and apple tree

Working in video, installation, and photography, the artist team of Argentinian-born Aboue Caraballo and Iranian-born Leonor Farman have been collaborating since 2001 and have recently exhibited at the Tate Modern in London. For Into the Trees, they created a new work consisting of a live video feed transmitted from the roots of a sapling planted outdoors to a monitor in the gallery, a "performance of growth" that can be watched in real time.

The Private Lives Of Trees, 2008 (image courtesy caraballo-farman)

Elizabeth Demaray

Untitled, 2008, site-specific knitting

Elizabeth Demaray is an interdisciplinary artist who combines the fields of art, technology, new media and eco art. Some of her projects include knitted sweaters for plants, cultured lichen on the side of New York City skyscrapers, and the manufacturing of plastic housing for hermit crabs.


Untitled, 2008

Stephen Dean

Untitled, 2008, spray paint

This work by Stephen Dean is a migration from his previous works. The French artist tends to work meticulously with drawing and mapping, and also creates large scale sculptures of colored panes of glass. This work can be seen as being in the same vein of concept, providing multiple points for this living tree to be severed- almost haphazardly and certainly uncalled for. He calls attention to the ends of limbs on this tree by selectively painting the tips of branches this bright orange color.

Untitled, 2008

Katie Holten

Excavated Tree (Missouri Native: Flowering Dogwood), 2008, dogwood tree, recycled cardboard, pvc, tape, and wire.

Katie Holten originally crafted the idea for this installation in 2005 and installed a recreation of Excavated Tree (Missouri Native: Flowering Dogwood) in the gallery for Into the Trees. It encompasses nearly the entire gallery and slighty obstructs the entrance, which invites the viewer to figure out a way to navigate around and observe the true scale of a dogwood tree.


Excavated Tree (Missouri Native: Flowering Dogwood), 2008

Jason Middlebrook

Fallen Poplar Tree Bench, 2008, fallen tree and paint

Jason Middlebrook receives his inspiration from both nature and technology, and combines this complex relationship into works of sculpture, painting, installation and large-scale drawing. Through use of these varied media he is able to preserve his interest in referencing techniques and styles in historial art movements and traditions. Fallen Poplar Tree Bench is a descriptive title, of a fallen tree that has been transformed into a functional piece of art.


Fallen Poplar Tree Bench, 2008

Alan Michelson

The Ratio of Art to Nature, 2008, glass, acrylic, wood

"A four-part outdoor installation based on the Claude glass, an 18th-century device for viewing picturesque landscape which required the user to turn his back on the view. The work consists of four framed black convex mirrors installed vertically at eye level on trees at four different wooded sites at The Fields Sculpture Park. Each mirror's distinctive shape—oval, circle, rectangle, octagon—frames a different view. " (text excerpted from artists' website)

The Ratio of Art to Nature, 2008

Cordy Ryman

Untitled, 2008, painted wooden blocks


Much of Ryman's work contains geometric shapes of wooden blocks painted in primary and secondary colors. Many of his works are expansive and tend to cover the wall, or are contained to a smaller assemblage. One of the main elements of his work is the medium of using wood, where it is seen here as being returned to the source- albeit still altered by the artists hand. It can be interpreted as a little tongue in cheek reunion of "mother and child".

Untitled, 2008

Shinique Smith

Untitled, 2008, second-hand clothing and rope

Individual works by Shinique Smith could be read as poetry or song lyrics. This work can be read as an excerpt from larger stories of the past wearer of the clothing or owner of the object that is included. Smith likes to honor women in her past that have given her power, strength and peace, and does so in this work. Trees are figurative in nature, protected and wrapped up in the protection of the clothing of women of the past, as florals, pink patterns and blue cotton with buttons cover the bark and connect from branch to branch.

Untitled, 2008

Chrysanne Stathacos

Wish Calling Tree, 2008, installation with paper, signage and benches


Chrysanne Stathacos created a fully immersive and interactive installation, wherein viewers approach a tree covered in small, swaying pieces of paper which read: "That bullets would turn to roses and hatred to friendship." Next to the tree is a small sign with a phone number, encouraging you to leave a wish on the voicemail- much like a confessional. The spiritual, technological and natural aspects of this piece blend into one to create a complete experience for any viewer involved.

Wish Calling Tree, 2008

Saya Woolfalk

No Place: Institute for the Analysis of Empathy, 2008, multi-media installation


Saya Woolfalk is an Asian- and African-American performance artist and sculptor based in New York. Her multi-colored plush costumes and toy-like forms characterize her style. Woolfalk approaches her performances and playful yet dark installations as if she were "writing chapters in a novel". Her work represents her ideas on hybrid cultures, feminism, and psychoanalysis.


No Place: Institute for the Analysis of Empathy, 2008

Copyright ©1992-2015 Omi International Arts Center. Text and images are the exclusive property of their authors or Omi International Arts Center. Reproduction or distribution of any images on this website without written permission from the author and/or Omi is strictly prohibited.