Hethre Larivee - USA
Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’; Common name: Scotch Elm - Magnified Aspect
7 x 2.5 x 0.5 While I was completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training at the Kripalu Yoga School in Stockbridge, MA, in November 2016, I discovered a magical tree on the campus. This sacred tree drew me in with its umbrella-shaped canopy of long, weeping branches, gnarled limbs and significant trunk circumference. At roughly 120 years old, the Camperdown Elm tree was originally planted on the lawn of the former Shadowbrook Mansion, built in 1893 by Anson Phelps Stokes and subsequently owned by Andrew Carnegie. In 1922, Mrs. Carnegie sold Shadowbrook Mansion to the New England Province of the Society of Jesus for use as a Jesuit novitiate; it burned to the ground in 1956, but the magical Camperdown Elm survived. The property eventually came to be what we now know as Kripalu Center for Health and Yoga.
Historically, this cultivated tree was grafted from a tree in Scotland, discovered at the Earl of Camperdown’s house in 1850; in the late 1800s, it became very popular in elite gardens, estates and Arboretums in the U.S. While this unique tree has lived for over a century, it has suffered damage caused by pests and other blight. As a result, the gnarled and highly textured tree loses its bark on occasion and features numerous “scars”. Upon closer inspection, these scars feature dips and pits, hills and valleys, with very fine texture. I wanted to get a deeper look at the tree’s deformations and natural sculptural qualities; I wanted to highlight the elegance of the gnarled microcosm which has thrived amidst adversity, a concept akin to yoga teachings and practices.
To capture these characteristics in 3D, to be able to see what is hidden or difficult to easily see at first glance, I used a safe putty to make an impression of one of these detailed scars. I subsequently used the lost wax method of glass casting, by building a high-refractory mold around the wax and melting glass shards into the mold during a 24-hour kiln cycle, to create the final glass impression, thus revealing the microscopic landscape of that scar. A stainless-steel pedestal and angled aluminum bezel cup were custom-made in order to showcase the electric colors, texture and landscape. The color combination was specifically blended to echo the brilliant pink and purple sunsets visible from Kripalu’s expansive views of the Stockbridge Bowl.