Sarah Fernandez, a student in Professor Marcia Eames-Sheavly’s Art of Horticulture
class at Cornell, responds to the exhibition Trees & Other Ramifications, now on view at the Johnson Museum:
"The exhibit was very interesting and from the tree watercolors we did in class I found it was extremely hard to capture the true characteristic of a tree. It was so interesting looking at the different interpretations of trees and different influences trees have had on art and science. I was surprised to see how an entire area of science is based off of the idea of a tree. Just like how all the branches and roots can be traced back to a single trunk, every species theoretically can be traced back to a single common ancestor. Just like branches divide to maximize the area in which leaves are exposed to sunlight, so do species. Species are constantly dividing and evolving to adapt to take advantage of an ecological niche, this idea was completely revolutionary for Charles Darwin to make at the time he did, and the use of a tree as the template to structure evolution progression helped formulate the thesis. Although modern evolutionary theories that try to trace species back to the original common ancestor formulates it more in a ring (because of early reproductive methods), the same concept and idea’s formulated by Darwin and influenced by the tree is held true.
"Another point of the exhibit that I found interesting was the history and common themes of landscape art. My friend who is a fine arts major accompanied me to the exhibit and explained to me that landscape art usually follows a common pattern of tree, land, and background (sky), and asymmetrical. Landscapes are the most common art form though of by people across the country and the world, it is the most inoffensive art form. As we went through the exhibit I saw this pattern, but the most interesting pieces to be the ones that did not follow this norm. Especially one piece that decided to put a huge branching tree right in the middle of the page, symmetrically, and used the ocean as the land. These pieces that broke the traditional norm of portraying trees, to me, were trying to express the importance of trees, in the way they give us life. Trees are not just background; they play a vital role in our life."
"When I was about ten years old, I was asked to read a poem that I liked in school. At some point in my young life I had read the poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer, and it became the love of my life in poetry. And it has lasted for 78 more years. Googling Joyce Kilmer’s life is so interesting; and after all these years, I found that Joyce Kilmer was a man. I say was since Joyce Kilmer’s life lasted from 1886 to 1918.”
by Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
- Submitted by Helen T. Lasher
Image not available.
Francois Houtin (b. 1950)
Katherine Walden, a student in Professor Marcia Eames-Sheavly’s Art of Horticulture
class at Cornell, responds to this work of art in the exhibition Trees &
Other Ramifications, now on view at the Johnson Museum:
"A piece that I was drawn to in the tree exhibit is "Abecedair" by Francois Houtin, which depicts the letters of the alphabet formed by plants and trees. My favorite aspect of the piece is Houtin’s whimsical style which is not only demonstrated through his child-like theme but by the way he drew the plants as twisted and out of proportionl. From far away it is easy to decipher the letters of the alphabet, but upon closer inspection the incredible detail makes each is a mini-masterpiece, and one enters an entirely different work or art. I was impressed most by the finery of the piece and the style combination of realism and fantasy, and also the use of wood as the canvas, which creates an even stronger connection between the art and nature."