The Seen Unseen
Roots have a long history of symbolic use. They represent one’s past, one’s lineage, one’s accumulated experience, stability, and as a hidden source of enrichment and nourishment. They have long fascinated me. Knowing that up to ⅔ of a tree’s biomass can be completely contained by its roots has always seemed a bit unfathomable to me. How can something so large as a tree have so much hidden from sight?
It’s almost voyeuristic when you see them exposed; a glimpse into what the tree tries to keep hidden underfoot. We see how their textured skin interweaves, building a web of simultaneous interconnection and disbursement. They reach into the ancient earth composed of mountains long since gone and innumerable beings that have been lost to memory. Roots transform histories of geologic time into new fruits, leaves, and flowers. They use this connection to the past to build a new future.
I too think about how my past, and the past of my ancestors, has helped shape who I am. Their influence has left unseen influences on my maturation into the person I am.These people I never met influence me through the generations by both learned and biological encoding as their past becomes my present.
In my drawings, I marvel at roots’ sprawling wonder as they transform into something new. Disembodied from the trees and their dirt, the roots become unique to themselves. Some sinister, some calming. They take on the personality of their situation. Cypress knees transform into spiritual resting places reminiscent of Song Dynasty landscape painting. Sycamore roots spread like gnarled tentacles across the page. Elm roots, damaged and healed, show a scarred resilience.