Seattle, WA-based artist John Grade recently unveiled a colossal new sculptural installation, entitled Middle Fork, at the MadArt space in Seattle. Grade was assisted by hundreds of volunteers who helped him create this stunning scale mold of an actual 140-year-old Western Hemlock tree growing in North Bend, WA.
The process of creating a mold of a colossal living tree began over a year ago when Grade, along with a team of assistants and another team of arborists scaled the tree.
At nearly 90 feet in the air they created sectional plaster molds of the living tree which were carefully lowered and transported back to the MadArt space over a period of two weeks. Over the next 12 months, hundreds of volunteers (some who walked in right off the streets) helped to create a hollow sculpture of the tree using hundreds of thousands of small wood blocks. The final piece was carefully sanded down and is now suspended in the gallery.
Middle Fork will be on display at MadArt through April 25, 2015. After that it’s going on tour throughout the country. In 2017 the sculpture will be broken down into its component pieces and transported to the base of the tree from which it was molded. There they’ll be gradually be reclaimed by nature. Moss will grow over every surface and eventually it’ll decay, disintegrate and disappear back into the earth.
Seattle-based artist John Grade creates enormous installations that often combine organic shapes culled from nature with technology (check out our coverage of his past work here). The artist currently has several projects on view, such as his monumental sculpture Middle Fork, which showing through April 25 at MadArt in Seattle.
For Middle Fork, Grade enlisted the help of arborists to scale a 85-foot-tall, 140-year-old Western Hemlock tree. He and his team took plaster casts of tree and recreated it in MadArt’s studio using small, salvaged old-growth cedar blocks no thicker than a ring of tree growth. Suspended horizontally, Middle Fork invites viewers to observe the tree’s majesty as well as the craftsmanship that went into creating the piece. (Over 100 volunteers helped Grade assemble the thousands of tiny wooden blocks.) Eventually, Grade plans to return the sculpture to the site of the original tree and allow it to naturally decay.