The Orchard Room

A small group of fruit trees is woven together by strands of hand-dyed silk. The trees speak to the many years of service given by the orchard since it was planted by pioneer farmers over a hundred years ago. The silk binds the trees together, winding through limbs and around trunks, and gives the illusion of walls. The soft material, stretched and bound, turns the small grove of trees into a living sculpture and gathering place, The Orchard Room.

This installation, part of Heaven and Earth IV: Rootbound, was co-curated with dancer, teacher, and musician, Lara McIntosh as a performance space for four months in 2012 and included dance, music, spoken word, and participatory events for both intentional audiences and passers-by.

Heaven and Earth IV: Rootbound was sponsored by Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and the Carkeek Advisory Board and consisted of seventeen temporary art installation in a public park.

Links to blog posts about this project and a full artist statement can be found below the image gallery.

As simple as a child’s game of cats cradle, colorful silk ribbons are tied between the trees of an historic apple orchard. They vibrate with the breeze, making the wind visible and giving the illusion of a breathing organism. It is a living sculpture, animated by the wind and imbued with the energy of the living trees.

Physically connecting the trees to each other by using strips of fabric makes the relationships between them visible. The weaving of the fabric between the trees suggests a nest, a basket, a spider web, a net, a kiva, our nervous system. It defines the space between inside and outside. It creates a room, ephemeral and permeable to wind and weather, with an earthen floor and the open sky for its roof. Inside that room the space can become a meeting place, a stage, an open container for interactions both planned and spontaneous.

This installation at Pipers Orchard speaks to the deep connection between man and nature through agriculture. Man manipulates nature, cultivating the plants that provide food and weeding away those that don’t. We prune, weed, and nurture these fruit trees so that they will provide us with nourishment.

Over the duration of the installation the colors of the fabric will fade and the silks will stretch and sag. These changes mimic the changes of the seasons from Spring to Autumn. The trees blossom, are pollinated, and fruit. Leaves bud, absorb the Summer sun, fade, and fall. We, too, change and age through the seasons of our lives. All these life cycles are bound together, much like the trees are bound together by a ribbon of silk.

The beauty of this installation lies in its simplicity. Silk, trees, time, and intention create a container for performance, interaction, and contemplation of the passage of time and our connections to the Earth.