In the late fall of 2016 I was in Michigan, walking a particular piece of land that I knew fairly well. There, between Freda Road and the Beacon Hill Cross-Cut, lies a stretch of forest that is as close to a first love as I will ever have. It sits on a ridge and waits for my return each year, unwavering and steady, or so I assumed.
Do to succession, climate shifts and generations of varied logging practices, this forest had actually been casting her lot in new directions, and had been doing so long before I came around. Upon closer observation, one can see that while the parcel remains intact and the forest still stands, the individuals within have had to adapt.
Not quite a year later, that same composite network of mycelium and lignin received a human body—me. I wondered if it too was keen to notice that this mammalian organism was although physically similar, different from before. What arose out of this experience were two narratives that would—hopefully, not only counteract the centuries of American folklore of the forest and its conquest, but situate these two entities as equally sentient and intimately connected—each exhibiting changes only visible upon reflection.
The piece, The Woodcutters Daughter is work that evolved over a year long mentorship at MCBA. The installation of print and text allude to the vastness of changes that occurred within that time, both visible and not. The graphic serigraphs tell the story of a journey, a dance, and the movement over time for a woman and a forest. It acts as a map for the eyes behold as if one could retrace the footprints, the trail of leaves to find the starting point that change occurred.
An ash pillar stands near by, engraved with the narrative of this observer, acknowledging the tradition of etching of one’s initials into a tree as an attempt of permanence. It faces its shadow, a symbol of impermanence, which reflects back to it the narrative of the forest. The two stand apart, yet connected, mirroring the nature of transition and growth.