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Exploring Wonder

In the backyard of my childhood home, almost fifty years ago, my mother and father planted an oak tree that is still alive today and is the heart of my childhood home. As a child, I slept under a blanket of stars in that beloved Mother Oak tree. Her big, strong branches have held me and welcomed me at many turning points in my life, and now my kids are sure to climb her when we visit.

My favorite book as a child was "The Giving Tree." Illustrated and written by Shel Silverstein. This book left such a mark on me so much that every time I walk past an abandoned stump, I will stop and take a moment to thank the tree for its service and selflessness.

The woodland forest that envelops my adult home is the birthplace of many Oak Trees. They are the trees of Knowland Park in Oakland, California. Many have fallen or been cut down over the last ten years, and their stumps are the gravestones of life that began from a wild seed. I have counted the rings of these stumps to honor the years they lived and found their rings to be what I call earthbound constellations—a unique map of each tree's life.

As an artist, I feel the best way to pay homage to these trees is to make art about or with them. Recently, I have been working with the land in a much deeper way. I am getting lost in the wonder and magic of this sacred space, witnessing the changing seasons and the tumbled trees decomposing over time and recycling back into the earth. The unfolding narrative of a tree's cycle has proven that any giving moment matters. Knowland Park's trees have ignited my curiosity about the land and its habitats. Through art, I have been exploring the mystery and the science of trees. I don't know what I am looking for, or the visual outcome of this journey, but the process thus far has kept me seeking more of its magical wonder.

I am about to leave for New Hampshire to share this wonder bug I have caught. I will lead a workshop where we will make prints from falling trees of their landscape. I feel humbled to be able to share this new raw, creative excitement with the young minds of our future. Through art, we can explore the deepest parts of ourselves and gain so much knowledge of the world we forget we are part of. I hope that at least one creative mind leaves my workshop inspired to help our trees on this earth recognize their importance and create change through art and action.

May you be well and continue to be inspired.

The Paper Boat Den

Ps. Enjoy this video I made about my dance with Knowland Park.

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