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title: The Nursery: a project during Artist-in-Residency at Waterfall Arts, Montville, Maine
year: 2008- present
size: 115' x 85'
media:

exisiting woods, stakes, string

The Garden = A Collaboration With Nature 

Throughout the project, I would like to think of each step as being an aesthetic decision always mindful of the image that is being created on the ground as well as being mindful of  what is best for Nature. I know from experience that once I’m on a site, things emerge and ideas can shift or evolve further.

an initial outline of ideas/process  1. Lay out a grid of string over the regenerating seedlings, spaced 2’ apart and from this grid select out the trees to remain, each one at the intersection of points on the grid. 

I wrote that in the first proposal on September 13, 2007. In the subsequent months of visiting the site and conversations with many people including foresters, to the week of working with participants who showed up, many things changed.  My initial intention was to dig up all the trees except those marked on the intersection of grid lines and replant them in other places. This was my interpretation of “the nursery” based on my own experience growing plants. I discovered that all the digging that would be necessary would disrupt the wood’s floor, damage the roots of remaining trees and therefore, not a desirable action. I also discovered that the idea of a plant nursery as a place to nurse individual trees along before transplanting is a limited view. In nature, the nursery is the crowding of trees for protection until the opportunistic ones take off.  Instead of removing what I imagined to be 95% of the trees, I decided to follow the information I was getting and find a way to leave masses of trees for a time 2-3 years away and cull more out then. The pattern that emerged was not a grid but rather a spiral.  Our guiding principal throughout the project was to create a subtle difference where we interrupted the course of nature in this spot of land. There will be another phase of cutting in 2-3 years when the trees are bigger and can stand on their own.   

Stakes and strings were used to make our thinking visible and becoming part of the “drawing” I was creating.  The decisions made are done knowing a continuing process in subsequent years will  reveal a subtle pattern with a goal that 30-40 years down the road someone could enter this space and feel something a bit different happened here once.