Arboreal Dementia Unfolding

Arboreal Dementia Unfolding: Mixed media installation, 328 x 96 x 120 inches, 2015

In Arboreal Dementia Unfolding, I sought inspiration from both the deterioration of my maternal grandmother’s mental health and the destruction of a century-old Evergreen Oak tree near my house. As my grandmother edges closer to her 100th birthday, her mind continually inches deeper into an obscure, mysterious, dementia-ridden realm. As a point of allegorical comparison, the trunks and branches of Evergreen Oaks grow into continually wilder shapes as they age, creating breathtaking botanical structures that seem to defy gravity. However, the persistence of their physical bodies can eventually become compromised by some inner structural flaw, and the catastrophic result is collapse.

Witnessing this arboreal collapse and destruction firsthand reminded me of a Seminole Indian anecdote of a rabbit fighting a man-eating monster, knocking over a giant tree in the process. This anecdote seemed to perfectly encapsulate larger ideas of power and loss that I see reflected in my grandmother’s dementia. I wanted to renegotiate the language of all these ideas into a tense, mysterious, complex, and chaotic installation, where the emotional heft of losing a grandparent, the physical, tactile, and auditory properties of a collapsing tree, and the energy of the Seminole anecdote could collide and coexist.

All the elements utilized in this installation are elements from past installation works, repainted, repurposed, and recontextualized, yet familiar and uncanny.

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