Emerging, national, and internationally acclaimed artists from around the world explore the metaphoric power of trees, one of the Earth’s most critical life forms, in the Moss Arts Center’s newest exhibition “Arboreal.”  The exhibition presents the work of 14 artists from Australia, Italy, Israel, Japan, and the United States in a range of media including photography, video, painting, and works on paper, as well as ceramic, wood, and stainless steel sculpture.

Artists with work featured in “Arboreal” are Elizabeth Bradford, Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, Ori Gersht, Sam Krisch, Rosemary Laing, Jason Middlebrook, Tom Nakashima, Roxy Paine, Quayola, Linda Foard Roberts, Eric Serritella, Claire Sherman, Michele Sons, and Yuken Teruya.

With works in all of the center’s gallery spaces, the exhibition will open with a reception on Thursday, Jan. 24, from 5-7 p.m. in the Grand Lobby of the Moss Arts Center, located at 190 Alumni Mall. The evening will include informal talks by exhibiting artists Sam Krisch, Tom Nakashima, Linda Foard Roberts, and Eric Serritella.

The galleries and all related events are free and open to the public.

“With a diverse range of artistic approaches, artists in this exhibition explore the imagery and significance of trees—probing this iconic symbol and its allusions to significant and often profound ideas,” said Margo Ann Crutchfield, the Moss Arts Center’s curator at large and curator of “Arboreal.” “At once majestic, sustaining, and enduring, trees, for these artists, are also deeply connected to concepts related to beauty, nature, time, and our relationship to an increasingly vulnerable environment.”

Engaging with notions of nature’s beauty but also its vulnerability are Yuken Teruya’s miniature cut out paper trees, Eric Serritella’s hyperreal ceramic sculptures of birch trees, Elizabeth Bradford’s paintings of bucolic scenes in the Carolinas, and Claire Sherman’s large scale, dynamic paintings of archetypal forest scenes. Among the photographic works represented are Michele Sons’ images of pristine, ice-laden Appalachian trees, and Linda Foard Roberts’ silver gelatin prints of venerable trees that allude to the pained history of the Southern landscape. Trees as a witness to history is a theme shared by Diana Cook and Len Jenshel in their mural-sized photographic image of “Emancipation Oak,” with its reference to freedom and the end of slavery.

Jason Middlebrook’s mesmerizing hybrid plank sculptures and Roxy Paine’s tabletop “Dendroid” stainless steel sculptures engage ideas about the evolving fusion or invasion of the industrial and manufactured with the organic, and technology with nature. Time is the subject of Sam Krisch’s photographs of remote wintery scenes in Japan, as well as in videos created by Quayola and Ori Gersht that merge past and present in meditations on history. The art in the exhibition is visually compelling, even beautiful, while infused with philosophical, moral, and environmental concerns.

The Moss Arts Center will also offer a series of gallery talks throughout the spring featuring Virginia Tech faculty members exploring a broad variety of topics relating to the world of trees, from sustainability and conservation to dendrochronology and invasive species. Free and open to the public, each talk will be approximately 30 minutes.

The schedule of gallery talks includes:

Wednesday, Jan. 30, 6:30 p.m.

“The Forest as a Workplace,” Carolyn Copenheaver, associate professor of forest ecology, College of Natural Resources and Environment

Saturday, Feb. 16, 5:30 p.m.

“Art Through the Eyes of an Arborist,” Eric Wiseman, associate professor of urban forestry and arboriculture, College of Natural Resources and Environment

Wednesday, March 6, 6:30 p.m.

“Charismatic Trees,” Lynn Resler, associate professor of geography, College of Natural Resources and Environment

Tuesday, March 19, 6:30 p.m.

“Invasive Species—Trees as Victim and Victor,” Jacob Barney, associate professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science; College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

The Moss Arts Center’s galleries are regularly open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. “Arboreal” will be on view through March 23.

The center offers many opportunities for students, faculty, and community members to engage with artists and their work. To arrange a group tour of the galleries, contact Meggin Hicklin, exhibitions program manager for the Moss Arts Center.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Kacy McAllister at 540-231-5300 or email kmcallis@vt.edu during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to an event.

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