Portfolio > Memory Ring Process Artist-in-Residence Project 108 Contemporary, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Juniperus virginiana, indigo, tannin, iron, waxed linen

For my 108 Contemporary artist-in-residence project I chose to work with a material that grows in Oklahoma and shares its habitat with the cross timber and plains ecosystems. Memory Ring is constructed with Juniperus virginiana, commonly known as juniper or eastern red cedar. Five tree trunks were sourced from my land in east Norman and methodically sliced into discs.

Juniper is Oklahoma’s only native evergreen. Despite it’s native classification, it has become an invasive “weed” tree, opportunistically growing westward through the central great plains prairie. Historically, fire played a role in preventing juniper from creeping out of the rocky canyons of its natural habitat. However, human behavior has since changed the way wild fires burn and the devastating results, such as the recent fires in Colorado and Arizona, are becoming more and more dangerous.

Trees grow outward, recording vital information in a calendar of rings about the environments they inhabit. This made me think about the memories we record in our bodies about our habitats and experiences. To represent this I hand painted a "memory ring" on one side of each radius, encompassing the trees’ core. The installation was created on site, radiating from the floor to the ceiling, or from the ground upwards to the sky, with the core falling like a waterfall.

Scientists are calling fire the “new normal” as global warming and extreme drought conditions worsen. To bring the universal color of water into the project I dyed each radius with natural indigo, tannin, and iron. Each piece is stitched with waxed linen, reconnecting them to the whole. The inner core, hand knit with waxed linen on site, represents a shadow, a core we rarely see, maybe of our memories or our decisions.