Arbor Vitae, site-specific temporary installation, PVC Pipe, PVC glue, sand, rivets, joinery, sponsored by Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, Art/Industry collaboration with Crown-Line Plastics, Nebraska City, NE.
This publicly accessible sculpture, influenced by Tony Cragg’s George and the Dragon (1984), re-uses locally sourced industrial materials to address a theme that is important to local culture; man’s relationship to nature. Tree-planting is a vital part of Nebraska City’s Identity, and Arbor Day remains an important event for the economy and tourism industries. By making a tree from plastic as a humorous temporary monument, the artist raises subtle questions about why and how trees create connections between those who plant them, and the existing environment.
Arbor Vitae is a plastic white tree with black and grey accents, made by assembling together differently-sized pipes, used in electricity, sewers, and construction. These “man-made” materials may seem completely different from the “natural” wood found in the many trees in Nebraska City, but in fact, both materials have been manipulated by humans to respond to our needs. The sculpture is located on the site of a former row of crab apple trees that were destroyed due to blight. Materials were donated by Crown-Line Plastics, which also supported project production by lending a work-space to the artist, over the course of the month. The work is temporarily “planted” in the ground using sand and gravity, but is not load-bearing.