Forest for the Trees

Forest For The Trees explores connections between trees and time. As they grow, trees create their own calendar of rings. As children we carve our memories in their trunks or use their fallen bark for our messages. We use paper to document our stories.

My grandmother Adele wrote prolifically – letters (of which there were many), a column for her local newspaper for many years, and then her own memoir years later. She died from Parkinson’s disease which robbed her of her ability to do many things, among them, connecting with friends, family, and community on her trademark onionskin paper via her typewriter perched at the dining room table.

This piece honors my grandmother’s memory by retyping her autobiography on ten 11-foot long vellum sheets. The text is reset to resemble the marks of birch trees and the panels are hung as a grove within the gallery. Readers engage with the piece at different scales – as a whole forest or as individual lines of text – and get a glimpse of the person and her history. Like me, they will only know parts of her story.

The hours I spent hand-typing on a vintage Smith-Corona electric typewriter was like spending time with my grandmother again. I learned so much about her life from this recreation of her memories.