Two trees were removed from the landscape making way for new construction for the Gregg. Our proposal is to create a single bench, out of which a towering, vertical 8” x 8” column rises 12’ skyward; a minimal replication of the posture of the oak once rooted, cut from the center heart of the trunk after sawing the log lengthwise.
The greatest challenge of working with these logs is their immense weight. The smaller of the two logs weighs approximately 8,000 lbs.; the larger log approximately 19,000 lbs. We propose creating this sculpture from the smaller of the logs. The larger, we would like to transport to the sawyer to be cut in large slabs and ricked for 3 years of air drying, which preserves the brightest natural coloration. Options abound for creating more sculpture or furniture for placement, to be determined, at NCSU.
The integrity of the log’s form will remain, as a reminder of the magnificence of scale. Turning this once vertical trunk to a horizontal position that becomes a functional surface, this huge tree is now positioned as a branch to the parent trunk. The sawn face will provide one 16’ x 3’ seating surface, and the outside radius of the log will remain unprocessed. The seating surface as well as the cleanly cut ends, will be sanded smooth, revealing time-rendered grain patterns, while the exterior surface will retain its natural form and finish. Six embedded steel cradles will support the logs on ground level. Two steel angle supports will be set into the surface of the bench and the up two sides of the column. The column will be mortised through the log becoming integral to the bench.
Spiraling around the column will be the sandblasted Rilke poem, reading from bottom to top, earth to sky; posing an eternal question of individual quest. The spiraling words are meant to lift the face, draw the eyes upward, as the motion of vision when following the reach of a magnificent tree, making the connection of the rooted form to the vast, open expanse of sky. A most positive human stance.
I live my life in widening circles
That reach out across the world.
I may not ever complete the last one,
But I give myself to it.
I circle around God, that primordial tower.
I have been circling for thousands of years,
And I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
A storm, or a great song?
Rainer Maria Wilke, Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
Nature of Growth and Decay
This piece was designed to be temporary, as nothing in nature stays the same or lasts forever. This sculpture is meant to move as life moves: ashes-to-ashes, dust-to dust.
It is movement the public can watch, if attention is paid. Perhaps paying attention to this transition will remind us also to be mindful to the growth, decay, and/or destruction that happens around us constantly. Our intention is to document the slow deterioration, which may take 15 years or so. But, in time, when this piece deteriorates beyond use, replacement is an option, as the steel supports will remain. Another tree can become another bench; perhaps a new design.