Back Into The Woods With You, Son - 2013

Back Into The Woods With You, Son

- Burris Hall Gallery, New Mexico Highlands University 2012
Artist Statement

The DNA structure of chlorophyll (the lifeblood of all trees) and that of human plasma are different by only one chromosome.  I find this little known fact very intriguing and it may explain why I feel so drawn to trees in my work. When I take the time to look at individual trees, figures appear.  Tree trunks become torsos, branches become outstretched arms and hands, buried roots are feet and toes. Trees are the highest forms of plant life on Earth, and I feel strongly connected to them.  My artwork attempts to explore the spiritual and physical connections between both humans and trees.

Many cultures throughout history have created myths and folklore involving their connection to these old, Zen-like plants. I have my own personal beliefs about our relationship to trees.  Our very existence depends on the oxygen that they provide us.  I believe trees had a significant role in our “rising up from the primordial ooze” hundreds of thousands of years ago.

My fascination with trees and wood began to develop about ten years ago when my wife and I owned a gallery next to a woodworker’s shop in Los Angeles.  The woodworker allowed me to dig through his dumpster full of scrap wood.  The “reclaimed” wood I scavenged was used as supports for my paintings and then eventually for carvings and framing elements.  This marked the beginning of a reawakening of my teenage years when my family lived in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  A state park that was thick with forests, wildlife, streams and the Susquehanna River surrounded us.  Back then I couldn’t wait to leave the country and get into the hustle and bustle of the city.  Living amongst nature was not what interested me at age seventeen.  Soon I was done with high school and college and off to the city I went. 

In Los Angeles, I followed a creative path that eventually led to my discovery of painting and drawing as a way to express my thoughts – those thoughts and feelings that words fail to describe. And for the last 5 years trees have been my artistic and spiritual focus.  I say “artistic and spiritual” because I don’t really consider these daily practices separate.  I cannot really have one without the other.  Through drawing, painting, and sculpting trees and their infinite forms I feel I have conjured up my new surroundings here in the forest of Montezuma.  I feel I have manifested where my wife and I now live.  I see my drawings all around me here and it feels like home.  The nature that I was so dead-set on getting away from earlier in my life has now summoned me back.  We are all connected to nature and we disregard this at our own life’s peril.  We need nature in order to thrive in this world.  And I have been brought back to nature.  My true nature.

Michael Gullberg