heARTbeat: Bryan Nash Gill’s Woodprints Leave an Impression

ColumnThe death mask of a plant, the sustained rigor mortis of maple, spruce and locust. They remind us every biological form possesses a unique footprint. -Verlyn Klinkenborg

When looking at a tree, one might see the possibility of shade, the opportunity to pick fruit or feel the urge to climb up. Bryan Nash Gill‘s ability to see the potential within the medium extends beyond the sculpture and objects he carves from felled trees, cedar telephone poles and discarded fence posts he collects in his native Connecticut. He sees into the heart of the material.

Gill’s woodcuts reveal the unique characteristics of these once-living organisms. His works on paper breathe life into the map of a tree’s existence, exposing what could be seen as their personality.

Take, for example, a 51-year-old weeping willow.“This specimen was harvested from the bole just below the main leaders, where the pith splits into two,” Gill said. “Willow grows relatively quickly in favorable conditions, evident in the loose growth rings. On the bottom edge, the irregular pattern is the result of a burgeoning burl.”

He says of an 82-year-old ash tree, “Printing in red ink was an investigation that proved to be an exciting variation of the original. It is simple but impactful and brings an unexpected richness to the reading.”

A 19-year-old maple: “As I was preparing firewood for the winter, I noticed the undulating outer edge of this maple specimen,” Gill said. “Maples generally grow straight and tall in the thick woods; however, at ground level, some take on a naturally curvy shape. Lacking visible growth rings (typical of hard maple wood), the perimeter is imperative to the success of the print. The block also features marks of peeling bark and rot, seen in the white shapes just off center.”

Stopping long enough to take their “fingerprints” Gill leaves us with a sense of knowing, not only what these trees might have looked like, but a deeper sense of how they lived while they were alive.

Inspired by a piece in TMagazine

Eco, trends, art, creativity and how they tumble through social media to shape culture fascinate EcoSalon columnist Dominique Pacheco. Her trends blog, mixingreality, speaks to these topics daily, and here at EcoSalon, she takes a weekly look at the intersection of eco and art. We call it heARTbeat.


Dominique Pacheco

Dominique Pacheco is the author of EcoSalon's weekly heARTbeat column.