Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Blued Trees Symphony update

From April 2016 until late November 2016, I juggled dealing with surgery, chemotherapy and adjusting to long term medications, while moving The Blued Trees Symphony project forward. I blogged extensively on FB about my journey, making analogies between what I was experiencing and how the whole ecosystem was struggling to adjust to pollution, fragmentation and climate change, and was pleased to have a chance to write about the broader context I see for this work: http://www.humansandnature.org/the-spirit-of-change. Thanks to Betsy Damon, Kate Cummings and Jeremy Ohmes.

The Blued Trees Symphony carried on. Under the direction of Robin Boucher, curator of Perspective Gallery at Virginia Tech, students and other volunteers painted almost 200 trees in Blacksburg, Virginia to resist natural gas pipelines there that would devastate local habitat and endanger the water system, and installed an indoor version of the material.


Trees painted on Chinkapin Hill, VA. November 11, 2016 for The Blued Trees Symphony


String quartet performing November 11, 2016 in the installation of the Blued Trees Coda
at Perspective Gallery, Virginia Tech.

Now under the direction of Anita Stewart, The Blued Trees Symphony is expanding along the Sabal Trail in Florida. Activists against the pipelines there have encountered serious opposition, allege extensive public corruption, and have seen inadequate investigative reporting.

In recent weeks, my attention was consumed by the drama of the American Election, and the horrors of assaults on Native peoples defending water rights at Standing Rock. I am still very focused on the travesties of justice being witnessed there, where the sitting governor and pipeline corporations complain that the Water Protectors are standing in the way of their ill-gotten gains from ignoring treaties and destroying habitat, not to mention, threatening life. It has been heartening to see the attention build to this disgusting display of greed and tyranny. While recently attending the American Studies Association conference in Denver, I had the great privilege of meeting and speaking with some of the amazing women from Oceti Sakowin. I found them very inspiring. 

This is where donations can be made: http://standwithstandingrock.net.

My task as an artist is to continue the project as an artwork, and to continue to build the standing for legal arguments when and if we can launch a test case in the courts.

The Coda to the raw material for the symphony was intended to be gathered Nov. 8, with the Election. My intention was contain the experience, and it was performed at the Perspective Gallery, at Virginia Tech the following Nov. 11, 2016.  The genesis of the show was covered in the Roanoke Times: 
http://www.roanoke.com/nrv/community/art-raises-awareness-about-trees-in-pipeline-s-path/article_755ac3ee-a64c-5327-907a-0eacd22f5406.html


Detail of installation at the Perspective Gallery, Virginia Tech

But it has turned out that post-Election events continue to unravel, and now I don't know how the resolutions will be expressed. What I do know, is that the symphony continues to evolve, along with national resistance to the voracious greed of natural gas companies, and the parodies of justice and good governance that abet and defend that greed. I know that art, like the prayer of those at Standing Rock, has an ineffable power of its own, and I intend to continue to yield it.

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