One Impulse from Vernal Wood

“One Impulse from A Vernal Wood”


"ONE IMPULSE FROM A VERNAL WOOD" has been created by Laura and Rick Brown for the woods of Chesterwood, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in Stockbridge. The solo exhibition for Chesterwood's annual contemporary sculpture show runs through Oct. 27, 2019.

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ONE IMPULSE FROM A VERNAL WOOD consists of nine large scale sculpture installations integrated into carefully selected sites within the boundary of the Daniel Chester French forest trail.  This forest cherished by French’s love of nature is a living example of an old growth New England forest. Trees are perhaps our most important partners on the planet. Almost every culture has a designated ‘sacred tree’. Trees are noble symbols of strength and this natural treasure provides an opportunity to utilize many large trees.  For many years we have collaborated using storm damaged, standing dead, fallen or trees slated for removal. In this elaborate assemblage of various site specific installations we have chosen to “work with”  elements provided by nature  and natural forces acting over a given area over many years in and around and within this complex community of plants and animals.

The exhibition title “One Impulse form Vernal Wood “is a reference to the 19th c. poem The Tables Turned by William Wordsworth.  Wordsworth calls out to his readers,

let nature be your teacher”.
One impulse from a vernal wood 
May teach you more of man, 
Of moral evil and of good, 
Than all the sages can. 

 ….come forth, and bring with you a heart that watches and receives.

In addition over the years our art practice has been informed by the Gaia hypothesis proposed by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulius.

the planet earth is a living creature. … a biological super- organism-a planetary body-that adjusts and regulates itself.

In this exhibition each sculpture installation has been inspired by the scientific work of botanist Suzanne Simard and Forester Peter Wollenbee. Susanah Simard has determined trees communicate underground through a complex network of root systems and fungal matter.  Simard suggests that “Trees Can Talk”. 

Perhaps in a place where science meets closely with the arts, our works loosely reference their breakthroughs in scientific inquiry.

Mother Tree -  Is a majestic full growth eastern white pine tree overlooking  and  under the ground nurturing a broad  sweeping  community   of younger trees that radiate outward from her long time fixed location found deeply in the forest.  
Eastern white pine, steel approx. 90’ tall,  installation 10’ x 22’ x 6’

Siblings - Consists of two large remaining hemlock stumps having had most of their upper sections blown off in a storm. Using these broken elements we constructed two linear sculpture configurations suggesting  two siblings possibly offspring from their mother tree playfully cascading down  the hillside  over rocks and through ferns on the forest floor. Each tree -piece begins with the remaining section of their rooted stump as a point of departure, continues with a mid -section of reconfigured forms rejoined and terminating  with their individual tree tops.
Two full growth hemlock, steel connectors.  Approx.. 70’ x 8’  x 2’ each

Dreaming - Gives an extended life to a fallen tree utilizing the remains of a full-growth hemlock destroyed in a storm. The sculptural configuration animates the reconfigured tree elements into a dream like three dimensionally drawn form physically connected in cooperation with an adjacent healthy ash tree suggesting the inter-connectedness, co-existence and actual structural  support  often  provided by trees of  different species collectively acting together with  each other within the forest- cooperative system.  
Hemlock, co-operating ash tree 80’ tall, black-smithed steel connectors, installation approx.. 50 ‘x12’x16’

Singing Tree - A standing dead hemlock tree with top blown off in a storm reconfigured in a way suggesting an exuberant tree, singing - out to surrounding trees and plants throughout the forest and the world at large. 
Hemlock, steel connectors installation approx.. 6’x 10’ x8’

Link - A re-configured fabricated systematic structure extending the life of this eastern white pine tree beyond its natural destruction from a violent storm.
Eastern white pine, steel connectors.  Installation 3’ x10’x 60’

Rouse - A storm damaged standing dead hemlock reconfigured and organized as a way to reflect tree’s tendencies to send out warning signals to surrounding trees when sensing dangers such as the invasion of harmful insects.
Hemlock, steel connectors . Installation 16x10’x2”

Wisdom - A very old, standing dead tree in advanced stages of decay. Surprisingly, a tree in this condition continues to provide vital information and resources for younger trees within the forest community. Our installation includes abstract symbols that loosely reference the origin of language and fundamental basis for communication.
Eastern white pine, ceramics, steel. Installation 3’x3’x 25’

Veer   Using fallen sections of adjacent hemlock trees we fabricate a web of inter locking screens that bob and weave back and forth between a number of remaining standing hemlock trees .   
Hemlock trees, steel connectors.  Installation 5’x50’x2”

Photographs by Cary Wolinsky