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Tree portraits from Human/Nature at BAM Galleries

drawings by Kenyan school children

Can art inspire conservation? Can conservation inspire art? BAM/PFA (Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archives) in partnership with MCASD (Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego) and Rare invited eights artists "to travel to eight UNESCO-designated World Heritage sites and to create new works of art in response to their travels and experiences there." The result is the Human/Nature: Artists Respond to a Changing Planet exhibit.

Xu Bing is one of the artists invited by BAM Galleries (the exhibit closes on September 27, 2009). I photographed several tree portraits from Bing's Mu, Lin, Sen (wood, woods, forest) Project or Forest Project exhibit.

What is the Forest Project?

Through art, culture, education, the involvement of local folks, and the internet, Xu Bing’s Forest Project creates a system to facilitate the automatic and uninterrupted flow of funds from developed countries to Kenya, earmarked for the planting of new trees....The educational component—embodied in an instructional book and workshops led by artist Xu Bing—connects the written word, calligraphy and art into one process. Students from local primary schools create drawings of trees using forms of writing from a variety of cultures and historical periods....The income and price disparities between more developed nations and Kenya form the basis for the success of this project. Two dollars is a pittance for many in the West, just enough for a one-way ride on the subway, but when used to purchase a piece of art created by a student in Kenya, it can be converted into 10 newly planted seedlings.

Question: What would your tree portrait look like? Below is a tree portrait from the Memorial Oak Grove-UC stadium treesit.