Trees work in mysterious ways. A branch from a tree is a miniature replica of the whole tree. It is not identical but similar in nature to the whole. This fractal structure may actually describe the very fabric of reality, meaning the invisible structure behind all existence has the shape of a tree. In this way the tree goes beyond being a mere symbol of the universe and is actually an echo of how reality is shaped. I see this pattern of the tree everywhere.
-Mark Ryden, from “Speak for the Trees” 2009 Freisen Gallery
This is a very fun pebble to shift in the hand. I am fond of picturing knowledge and belief as it gathers and splinters, each person linking with others or taking on variations as side streams, as we all struggle to imagine how the world we share works. A 4- or 5-dimensional tree image. These very thoughts are triggered by my network of dendrites– miniature, threadlike tree roots with incalculable density in the brain– and picked up by yours, racketing through your pre-forged paths and making new connections, zippity zap.
This past summer was kicked off by a four-day stay at Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, where I taught a bookbinding workshop, and wrapped up, so to speak, by a workshop at Cornish College of Art + Design, where I taught an observational drawing class. Aside from a small handful of older students who have been in my university classes, my lion’s share of teaching has been to the 18-24 year old set. In contrast, at Sitka, all but one of my students were older than me, while my students at Cornish ranged from 15-18. It was a refreshing and freshly challenging set of experiences.
I feel like the secretary to the morning whose only
responsibility is to take down its bright, airy dictation
until it’s time to go to lunch with the other girls,
all of us ordering the cottage cheese with half a pear.
(an excerpt from “Tuesday, June 4th, 1991” by Billy Collins)