John Grade Creates “Middle Fork” From Plaster Casts of 140-Year-Old Tree

by Nastia VoynovskayaPosted on

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.

In addition to Middle Fork, Grade has two public art projects on view in different parts of the country. His piece Canopy Tower hangs at the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at the The Contemporary Austin in Texas. An inverted wooden tower suspended from trees, Canopy Tower can be found in a wooded area off the beaten path of the park and invites viewers to duck inside for a moment of solitary contemplation. His latest work, Vantage, features three kinetic pieces that respond to the landscape and debuts this month in Tualatin Hills in Portland, OR.

Middle Fork – MadArt from John Grade on Vimeo.

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