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Gina Siepel: To Understand a Tree

MARCH 1 – MAY 26, 2024


The tree at the height of autumn color, 2019 by Gina Siepel

To Understand a Tree was inspired by a desire to contemplate a living forest tree and its immediate habitat from the perspective of a queer-identified woodworker, in a way that challenges and provokes an often-assumed binary between living tree and dead wood. It links legacies of 19th-century transcendentalism with contemporary biological understandings of forest interconnection, ecofeminism, queer ecology, eco-philosophy, and Indigenous teachings about human-nature relationships. These studies, along with many hours spent in the forest, encourage a shift in the consideration of the tree as a subject rather than simply an object, which fundamentally impacts ideas of woodworking practice and our ecological responsibility. Involving collaboration, public engagement, site-based study and contemplation,
video documentation, and woodworking, To Understand a Tree functions as a small-scale way of exploring big questions about the place of humans in the environment, the scale and speed at which we consume natural resources, and which organisms are included or excluded in a definition of “community.” Forests are complex and interconnected systems, and in that spirit, To Understand a Tree connects material practice and object-making to questions of forest ecology, climate change, and more than human personhood.