In my sixth year we moved from Coastal Texas where trees grow wide to Lower Michigan where they grow tall. My walk to school was under a canopy of Elms that reached for the sky, blocking out the sun on summer days with the last 200 steps of my journey skirting a city park populated by Pin, Burr and White Oaks. My arrival to the 3rd grade coincided with the arrival of Dutch Elm disease and in one week the Elms were cut down to prevent them from falling on houses and people. The change in light and temperature was profound and I felt the loss in my young bones. When given free time in art class I began drawing from my memories of those Elms a stark, “Winter-ness” using only white and black crayons. The experience of walking under those Elms and recording my love for them, for all trees, has informed my photographs for 35 years.
Trees are the lungs of the Earth, they are the thing in nature most like us — reaching for the sky, each other and healthiest when growing with others of their kind. A tree grown in a windless environment would snap in half and die at an early age as the movement of the wind contributes to its strength as much as water and light do. So it is with us — it is the trials of living that help us grow strong.