Price: $350 – available for purchase on Etsy
Deep in the heart of every tree-born instrument rests the remnants of eighty thousand days and nights. Each cell holds the ghost of a sunbeam; each splinter the sharp crack of twenty below. Run your hand down the fretted plane, and you touch yearning for roots gripping the earth for dear life. Pluck the string, tap the bout, and a tree struggles to revive the songs of beasts now laid to dust.
Long after the forest has fallen, the wood remembers.
I created this piece from an acoustic guitar I got from a thrift store. The body was badly damaged, beyond repair, and I knew that no one else was likely to salvage it. After rescuing it and taking it home, I wondered about the trees it had been made of, where they’d grown, and what had happened to the rest of the wood from these once-living beings. In a fit of inspiration, I wrote down the words above as an ode to forests fallen–for paper, for toothpicks, for cheaply-made and easily-discarded musical instruments.
I chose a somewhat cartoonish style for the singing animals painted above these words as a contrast to the sadness in the sentiment. In this culture, we frequently use animals as symbols, and abstract them to the point that it’s easy to ignore their physical presence. This is compounded by our ignorance about the exact processes by which our paper, toothpicks and other consumer goods are made, and the destruction and pollution that result. So it is that the cute singing animals around the tree stump have been long “laid to dust”, and all that remains of them is this memorial.
The branches that sprout from where tuning pegs once resided are also secondhand from a fake tree, another thrift store rescue. It says quite a bit that we have enclosed ourselves so completely in our buildings that we can no longer get sunlight within their depths, and so we need artificial foliage for decor. We’ve also become too busy to care for living plants; the fake tree needs no watering, and may be left in a corner for years with no attention. The forest has fallen, to be replaced by plastic and a thin layer of dust. But deep inside, a part of us remembers what it is to be a wild being, and the wood reminds us.