Kathleen Vance “Boundsticks” installation

In my work I distinguish forms that are indicative of growth and explore the variance between experiences of an authentic natural encounter vs. an inauthentic encounter. I look for the ways in which nature can be brought back into the course of one’s daily life.  I am intrigued by areas where manicured nature is being reclaimed by the wild.  With my installations I engage viewers with the experience of a space being overtaken by natural elements. I bring discarded particles from forestry floor together to be revivified in my constructions.

In the series entitled “Boundsticks” I investigate the association of a material to its point of origin and how its individual identity can be strengthened when removed from its natural habitat.   For each installation I consider the site of collection for each branch or stick and how it will relate to the whole of the installation. With a varied site collection process, I immerse myself deep into wooded areas and forestry points, engaging with the habitat that has been created by nature. Each unit of the installation is given importance with a reference back to its origin; a color marking denotes the area of collection.  In gathering fallen branches and sticks from trees, it is important that in this process, I do not cut the limbs, my selection is made from branches and sticks that are found fallen from their parent tree.

Through an interwoven and entangled binding system, I reactivate these fallen branches and limbs, detouring them from the natural course of decay that would occur in that environment. As independent units, their structural importance dissolves; they become disconnected, discarded from an active whole.  These sticks as units of a living tree create a growth pattern that is determined by how they will service the needs of the tree as a whole, when they are removed from this system of growth they enter a larger system where they are of lesser immediate importance.  Through my intervention, the branches are dislocated from their position in this larger system; their decay is delayed as their identity is redefined within the context of a new structure.

The structure of the installations I create consider the architecture of its surroundings, specific to each site, being determined by the physical limits of the space.  These pieces are created to mimic growth forms similar to those of vines, but unlike vines, the installations are created in a closed circuit, with no beginning and end.

The origin site of collection for my recent installations is the Grunewald forest, one of the largest forests in Berlin.  Unlike the culture of the U.S. where the need for living spaces often overtake the need for green spaces in urban locals, the city of Berlin protected the land and forest from aggressive settlement plans in the early 1900’s.  With these installations I champion the preservation of forestry areas, and as urban sprawl attacks countrysides, I aim to communicate the importance to retain some areas as natural reservations.  Without this consideration, our communities will loose their ability to commune with authentic nature and the precious areas of growth will be transformed into artificial recreations that mimic true growth.

-Kathleen Vance