I began with ideas of a stump with a hollow in the side so that the dancers could sit on top of it, or curl up inside the tree. However, I did not have the time to construct something like that, and the driftwood Anna had for me to use spoke in a different way to me. Upon first seeing the wood, all my previous thoughts about what I was going to make went out the window, and I let the material inform how I was going to build because each piece was so unique.
I got the wood over to the studio in Regis and, by chance, found another piece of driftwood in the free pile in the wood assembly room that was bigger than all the others Anna gave me. I began with that piece and the other large pieces Anna had and started the base of the tree. I was frustrated at first, because the log was rotted out and anytime I placed a screw in it, the wood crumbled and didn't hold. I eventually found a place to screw the wood together.
Piece by piece, I built the tree. I did not try to plan ahead other than laying out the pieces from big to small. I let each piece of wood and its shape in relation to what I was slowly creating inform me where to put it. After 4 hours I finally managed to get the majority of the wood screwed together. But the tree was still only about 5 feet tall. I wanted it to take up more space.
My friend Nichole helped me out - (she was the lighting designer for Barefoot). She noticed they had trimmed the branches of the trees over by Midwest Mountaineering, and we walked over there one night and grabbed a few of the twisted branches and stored them in Regis East. The next night, we moved all the branches and the 5' driftwood tree over to the installation and performance space across the street and I showed it to Anna. She agreed that it needed to be taller, so I played around with some of the branches to see which one fit. We chose one of the branches from the conifer trees and I tied it with twine to the back of the tree. It took up a lot of space and made the tree taller and have more presence even though it was just a branch.
I finished the tree by tying a bone to one of the branches, and placing other bones and wood pieces around and on the tree.
It didn't turn out the way I originally planned; the dancers couldn't sit on it, or crawl into it. However, the tree did have a lot of personality and did allow itself to be interacted with - the dancers kept sand in a bowl behind it and also used the tree's various branches and niches to hold the raven mask during different parts of the performance.
It was really cool to see this tree come to life out of wood that was once apart of other living trees. It wasn't actually alive, but because we made it so, its personality came out and helped further the notion of the human mark - I, a human, made the tree. However, it was because of my relationship with nature and my imitation of nature's creation that the form came to be.