1. The Tree: Form and Substance featured a wide selection of works by artists such as Kim Dorland, Viktor Tinkl, Edward Falkenberg, Will Gorlitz, Sorel Etrog, Alex McLeod, Natalka Husar, and others. Recently created photographs, sculptures, paintings, installation, and mixed media works created an open dialogue with works from the McMichael’s permanent collection, where trees that are so familiar to us in paintings by Tom Thomson, Emily Carr, and members of the Group of Seven, give a promise of renewal and beauty. In witnessing a tree change with the changing of days, seasons, and social surroundings, the works by Greg Staats, Simon Frank, and Vincenzo Pietropaolo celebrate the tree, yet also remind us why we should never take the life of a tree for granted. 2. In conjunction with The Tree: Form and Substance, the McMichael also presented The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social, an exhibition that reveals how the tree is ripe with cultural contradictions. It has been used as a symbol for all of nature and its overwhelming beauty; it is a powerful signifier of Canada’s national identity as well as the individual’s struggle against the wilderness; and currently, it even serves as a reminder of our precarious ecological position. The exhibition began with historical images of the forest that evoked the grandeur and power of the natural world. A growing sense of alienation from the natural world is also explored by artists who expose our mediated experiences of nature. Still others depict trees as a resource for economic development and the devastating consequences of severe logging practices. Optimistically, some artists in the exhibition presented life-affirming projects that revitalize the “dying” tree and engage in both metaphorical and real tree-planting projects.
1. Organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, curated by Katerina Atanassova
2. Organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator/Associate Director, with Assistant Curator, Emmy Lee.