By Katie Dezes
Rachel Mathes, a senior art major at Stetson, had two paintings accepted into a juried art exhibition in Pittsburgh, PA.
The art show, referred to as Arbor Aid 2013, is hosted by the Future Tenant art gallery and Tree Pittsburgh, an environmental organization, in celebration of Arbor Day. The exhibition will take place from Nov. 2 through Dec. 1.
The artwork featured in the show was required to utilize recycled urban wood. Mathes’s paintings are 2-by-2 feet oil paintings on oriented strand board (OSB).
“I chose the OSB to paint on because it’s such a chaotic base and I wanted to create a dynamic between the painted image and the wood it was painted on,” Mathes said. “It’s a material used in construction a lot, but never given any attention as an aesthetic material.”
Mathes said both images explore the idea of cutting the tree in half, both vertically and horizontally.
“I was really interested in painting something as realistic as possible and wood seemed like the best place to start because I had used it in sculptures before,” Mathes said.
Mathes further explained what she hoped to convey through her art: “And the tree rings to me are a portrait of the tree that once was. They’re seen as these beautiful, majestic representations of trees where OSB is literally just chopped up slivers of wood pressed together with steam and glue. But both images of the tree, the cross section and the OSB, can only be observed by killing the organism. So it’s a reflection on the way in which we observe nature and how we preserve it for beauty’s sake.”
Twelve artists, including Mathes, were chosen to have their artwork displayed at the exhibition.
The four jurors responsible for selecting the art pieces were Jason Boone, Natalie Sweet, Phil Hessler, and Adam Kenney, all of which are held in high esteem in the Pittsburgh art world.
Arbor Aid was devised 5 years ago.
“Arbor Aid celebrates the possibilities presented to us by trees as resources within our city,” according to futuretenant.org. “Rather than make mulch or firewood from urban trees that need to be removed, Tree Pittsburgh encourages giving them a longer life by repurposing them as art, furniture, flooring and everything in between.”