Burn Box Series / This one (diptych)
My work in this exhibition is more personal than I ever intended, and far less oriented towards science than I had planned. I was an engaged participant in lectures and presentations throughout the program, but when the time came to produce work for the exhibition I found myself spiraling through loss and unable to be a reliable collaborator or formulate a meaningful query for a science partner. Life does not always correspond to our intentions, and the fire last fall that took my studio was certainly not on the agenda. I appreciate ITOC’s willingness to allow me to continue in the project in my admittedly limited capacity.
I was able to find some solace in my immediate surroundings, an (at least recently) undisturbed stretch of the boreal forest. My dogs and I walked a private trail along a creek corridor that runs through our property every day. Entering that trail meant passing through the charred trees that surrounded the empty site where my studio had been and forced a daily reckoning with what was no longer there.
These pieces are an elegy, or a remembrance, or a highly inadequate apology to a specific beloved birch tree that stood outside the windows at the front of my studio. I cut and saved as much of its charred form as I could. I took in the strange new shape, wondering how it managed to burn so completely on one side while the other remained relatively untouched. I wanted to use these salvaged parts in my work. I also wanted to make some pieces that celebrated the tree as remembered. As I worked, I gained a sense of the tree as my collaborator. I eventually took some small consolation from the discovery that the main trunk was rotten at the core.
In my mind there is something interesting that happens in the combination of the highly processed wood “product” of the colored veneer on the lids and the raw char on the body of the boxes. Nature and the manmade slam together with results that are often tragic; in this case, I hope to pull some beauty out of this strange sad story from the boreal forest.
Sara Tabbert is a print and wood artist from Fairbanks, Alaska. Her work appears in museums, commercial galleries, nonprofit spaces, and as permanent public art installations. Her recent work often explores the natural world and the man-made object, and their interactions within “lesser” yet still wild landscapes.