The Chicago Tree Project

Vivian Visser

Ledge Fungus 

Green Briar Park

2016

To make the Shelf Fungi, I collected weeping willow shoots from a park on the south side of Chicago with the help of the Chicago Park District. Each shoot was 5-8 feet long, perfect for weaving. The willow was woven into the shape of a very large shelf fungi. I abstracted the mushroom by making it huge, the largest being more than 2 feet across. The weaving process took a couple of months to complete all of the mushrooms. They were then painted in an orange color that some mushrooms are in nature. The completed mushrooms were clustered on the north side of the tree in a natural random pattern as they would be had they been grown there. Neighborhood residents were very welcoming when I was installing the sculpture. This has been a great experience. I am glad my sculpture is so welcome in its new home. 

Hive

Portage Park

2016

I decided to make a sculpture attached to a tree that would give the impression of a beehive or a nest. Linden branches were made available to me by the Department of Streets and Sanitation. I chose thin flexible branches and coiled them into a dome-like shape. Each branch was wired side by side to the other branches in multiple places to assure stability and the correct form. The dome-like shape was mounted on the side of a tree as if it was built outward from the trunk.

The park staff was very helpful to me as I installed the sculpture on a very windy day. A man at the park was worried that Hive had bees living in it. I assured him that bees would not be a problem. It only looks like a hive. I would love an animal to move into my sculpture, but it would most likely be a bird or squirrel. I will have to visit the sculpture often to check for residents.

People walk past natural elements every day without noticing them. With my sculpture, I try to bring attention to natural life forms, challenging the viewer’s beliefs on nature. My sculpture allows viewers to consider what they know about nature. Hopefully they will also learn to value the natural elements they see every day at Portage Park and the rest of Chicago.