When the directors of Storm King Art Center realized that two rows of 50-year-old maple trees that formed an allée were at the end of their life cycle, they invited artist Jean Shin to make work out of the them. She created “Allée Gathering”, “a memorial, a place of remembrance and gathering,” where visitors would “spend time with art and nature”.
Allée Gathering is a massive table made from thick vertical cuts from the taken-down trees, live edges of bark showing on the sides.
At Hyperallergic, Shin described touching the inside of the tree as it opened to the chain saw:
“I was filled with beauty. I was weeping.”
Although it was a hot day,
“the wood was cold inside, a different surface hidden from the world.”
Shin’s work conveys some of that experience, as visitors sit at that “different surface” and feel the inside of the tall trees now laid parallel to the earth, as though to make a new path.
Allée Gathering made us think of W.S. Merwin’s poem, Trees:
they may be one of the things I will miss
most from the earth
though many of the ones I have seen
already I cannot remember
and though I seldom embrace the ones I see
and have never been able to speak
I listen to them tenderly
their names have never touched them
they have stood round my sleep
and when it was forbidden to climb them
they have carried me in their branches.