The Chicago Tree Project

Anne Alexander

This piece has been deinstalled 

Solspirals

Harrison Park

2016

The proposed concept and resulting sculpture was to carve embedded, relief, spiral forms along the sides of a tree trunk. I proposed and carved a series of a dozen spirals, of varying sizes into the trunk of a tree around all sides. The spirals ranged in diameter from 9 to 15 inches. 

The forms are reminiscent of gastropod fossil forms and the sculpture was originally titled Tree Fossils. I envisioned the sculpture would evoke a sense of nature lasting for eternity, life cycles and growth. The fossil forms would give a sense of new life to this ash tree, which was dying due to Emerald Ash Border infestation. 

The sculpture was carved over two hot sunny weeks in September of 2016 in the predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood of Pilsen. The residents passing by frequently asked if I was carving suns or soles. Some people told stories of how important sun imagery was to Mexican culture. In Mexican culture and throughout our planet, the sun symbolizes life and flourishing nature, life cycles, and positive energy. I observed and felt all of this in the dynamic Pilsen neighborhood and thus decided to change the title of the sculpture to Solspirals

The people passing by were friendly, inquisitive, and positive in their reactions and many returned day after day. One frequent question was if I would continue to carve the other dying ash trees within the park. I do not speak Spanish and the interaction with the community was an integral part of completing this work. The neighborhood’s welcoming reception and reaction to the sculpture caused me to see this project in an enhanced and new view from my original proposal. I miss the carving outdoors, the delicious Mexican food, and conversations in Spanish and English about my work.