Art & Soul Short #35
Tree. Arthur Dove (American, Canandaigua, New York 1880–1946 Huntington, New York)
1935. Watercolor, tempera, and ink on paper. 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.8 cm). Alfred Stieglitz
Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art open access.
There is the growing up and the growing down. Trees do. We do. There is also a growing out and growing in. A tree is nourished by, and holds, unseen forces. Taken in. Drawn upward. Feeding, storing, restoring. Its foliage unfurls from spring to summer like knowledge. Some wisdom about the world in which the tree lives. Where do we keep such wisdom…in our blood, bones, bile? In our brains, organs, or nervous systems? Maybe our souls. Whatever they are, they must contain some signs of what was lived through, like tree rings we decode to read into a tree’s experience. Hardships overcome: drought, deep-freeze, long, wet seasons. Maybe such scars are rejected with the body upon escape from kernel self, one brief identity. A dark tree trunk encased in blueness of leaf aura on a blue-black hill against bluest gradations of sky. It is an embryonic organism. A body in the world on the brink of turning inward. Waiting to shed dead leaves and skin. Brace itself for cold, wind, winter-dark. The tree knows this is not the season, right now, to reach for too much light, expect too much assistance. It is time to contain, hold on tight to creative forces inside, to pause and not exert too much energy, to rest and ready itself to begin again.