Artists Help Us Learn from Trees: Maren Hassinger and Josephine Halvorson at deCordova Sculpture Park

Josephine Halvorson’s Measure (Tree) and Maren Hassinger’s Monuments 3 and 6 have expanded my range in relating to trees. That is true for several other artworks at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, so I’ll hope to follow up in future posts with more examples. But I’ll start with these two artists because their processes give specific attention to trees. Measure (Tree) involved the artist in close observation while painting a tree’s elements onto a wooden plank. Both Monuments involved many people in carefully weaving assorted branches of local trees into geometric structures and patterns. Quotes from the Trustees website explain more. Links to each artist’s site offer context. My photos give glimpses of the presence of these artworks among trees in the park in different seasons.

Measure (Tree) is a hand-painted replica of a fallen tree the artist discovered near her studio in western Massachusetts. Working on a twenty-four-foot plank of wood, Halvorson painted each side to resemble the tree’s characteristics, carefully translating every detail onto the surface of her wooden “canvas.” ……. Halvorson hopes the sculpture encourages close-looking and curiosity on the viewer’s part. Installed among a group of towering pine trees in deCordova’s Sculpture Park, Measure (Tree) simultaneously blends in with its surroundings and stands out as an unnatural presence that draws us in to examine the work and its environment with more care.“(quote from Trustees site for art in the Sculpture Park, Measure (Tree) )

Hassinger originally created her two large-scale works in deCordova’s Sculpture Park, Monument 3 (Standing Rectangle) and Monument 6 (Square), for Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. Commissioned by the Studio Museum in Harlem, the sculptures are primary geometric forms, yet their textured surfaces echo the intricacies of natural growth. Branches, twigs, and sticks collected from the park and neighboring properties completely cover over the sculptures’ metal framework. Installed among deCordova’s trees and plantings, Monument 3 and Monument 6 become centerpieces for, and backdrops to, the activities in the Park, from strolling and picnicking to napping and contemplation. The twisted branches are woven tightly to create a cohesive volume, while subtly emphasizing the vertical and horizontal lines in the landscape. The Monuments were constructed at deCordova by volunteers in the summer of 2019, thus fusing the connection between community and nature that is crucial to Hassinger’s work.” ( quote from Trustees site for art in Sculpture Park, Monuments 3 and 6 )

Please explore Maren Hassinger’s website.

Inside the museum Josephine Halvorson’s paintings of tree trunks, leaves and other outdoor closeups are part of Visionary New England, on view through March 14, 2021. She discusses her processes and perspective in a video, Mediumship and Painting. See more on Josephine Halvorson’s website.

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