This portfolio contains a portion the work that was displayed at Schmidt-Haus, Nabburg, Germany. Materials include silk screen inks, water color, hand-made acrylic paint made with Kremer’s K9 dispersion.
The paintings in this set use “the forest” as an anthropological metaphor that invites the viewer to contemplate the relationship between the forest’s structural properties, its inhabitants and its visitors. At times, the “figures” of animals and humans dissolve into the forest itself and become a part of its trellised architecture; at other times, such figures emerge from among the trees.
During my residency in Schwandorf, Germany in September 2008, I documented the European Silver Fir tree (Abies alba) in the Bavarian landscape and studied representations of the species in German art. The Silver Fir tree is native to mountains of Europe. It is ubiquitous throughout Germany and has an expansive visual history in the Bavarian region. This particular tree is an important iconic representation of German culture and nationalism. In European folklore, the Silver Fir is considered the original Christmas tree; it has been represented in countless artists’ work. In the 20th century, the alpine mountain woodcuts of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner begin to undermine the traditional representations of the fir tree. The sense of desolation in this series could be seen as presaging the seizure of German cultural institutions by the Nazis and the persecution and exile of “degenerate” artists. Other artists use the tree even more overtly as political critique. In 1934, John Heartfield created a photomontage entitled O Christmas tree in German soil, how bent are thy branches! This work subverts the symbol of the swastika to build a twisted fir tree as a direct critique of National Socialism.