OK, so maybe this week’s blog title is a little dramatic, but it’s not necessarily untrue. I figured this week we could take a break from the concrete jungle and instead focus on street art found on (not in) nature. By this, I am mainly referring to tree carving. Tree carving, just like any other art media, can take many forms and/or levels in skill. What is most interesting about this broad spectrum is that many “works of art” are actually borderline vandalism. The skill level of etching your name in a bathroom stall is not
much different from that of carving out a heart in the side of a tree. Still, there is something to be said about art being meaningful, and whether or not the person whose name shares the same area within a geometric shape as yours is still relevant in your life 20 years later, we still must at least take some time to consider the validity of this illegal art form.
this hurts more than you know
Beyond the obvious reasons of unwanted marks on personal property, tree carving can be illegal for another crime an art form such as graffiti doesn’t typically commit; destruction of health and life. Trees are often perceived as sturdy and durable but what’s ironic about their thick skin we all know is there to protect them, is that it is also their lifeline. Tree bark is not a one job item. Most people don’t know that it is through the bark where the tree transports the majority of its nutrients. The inner bark known as the phloem, protected by only a shallow layer of outer bark, acts as a vein or an artery for the tree and brings it nutrients to conduct photosynthesis and survive.
Carving or gouging into a tree won’t necessarily mean imminent death for the tree, but it does put them at a risk. It is estimated that if about 75% or more of the circumference of the bark is cut out in a line, the tree will surely die. This would be equivalent to three quarters of the outside of your vein cut. At this point the tree is not able to receive enough nutrients from the remaining 25% of bark intact to heal itself, much less survive without its necessary requirements to live. Even smaller indentations can make a great impact by leaving the tree susceptible to parasites, insects, and pathogens leading to disease.
“well, I done seen’t it made perty with a chainsaw!”
This is where we enter the exact opposite end of the artistic spectrum and ooh and ahh at the woodwork skills of carving artists. Professionals have taken it upon themselves to show up the amateurs and lovers and, in my opinion, they do quite a nice job.
Wood art is a fascinating realm where there is little room for error and your paint brush is usually a tool with some high degree of safety hazard involved.
It requires a great deal of strength and persistence as wood is not the easiest of materials to manipulate.
the law is set in wood
What does it mean to you? How are your emotions inclined to move (if at all) when you come across altered nature in a form such as this? Should parks allow citizens to express themselves or is it unnecessary and people need to keep their etchings (whether primal or professional) in a respectable work space?
I’m interested to hear what you think. See you next week.