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  Susan Weinberg
  Studio 409































   





TREE TIME
   


This painting is based on the oldest tree in the world. It is found in California and is 4700 years old. The tree is aptly called Methuselah.The biblical Methuselah was the grandfather of Noah and together with Noah acted as a messenger to the world of the impending flood, much as the current day Methuselah announces the presence of global warming.

The bristle cone pine is a twisted and gnarly tree that grows in difficult climates.  Its age is determined through taking a core sample  from it and examining the rings under a microscope. The science is known as Dendrochronology which means tree time, hence the name of the painting. The rings reveal changes in climate, rain, drought, volcanic activity and frost. When I painted this, I wanted something that would represent the role of this tree in witnessing, recording and revealing the history of our earth. I decided to paint tree rings behind it, emphasizing the linearity of both the tree and the rings.

Read more about the story told by these ancient trees here.

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SEPARATION



  

When I did this painting, I was thinking about deforestation, but also the concept of presence and absence. We had just had one of our trees diagnosed with Dutch Elm disease and I found myself viewing it with a new fondness as I knew we would have to take it down. Now I feel its presence deeply when I look at the space it once occupied. I have found that with people I often feel their presence deeply when they are gone. The same may be said of trees. I also was intrigued with what I have learned about how trees often function in community and wanted to show the entanglement of community in the overlapping branches that is also lost.

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SALT FOREST




I had done the painting Ghost Trees and had originally called it Ghost Forest. That seemed like something that might actually exist so I did a search. I learned that the name is often applied to forests that are adjacent to ocean. As the oceans rise, they surround the trees and the salt water kills them. They poke up through the water in various states of decay, often turning white. This painting is based on actual ghost forests that are markers of our history. They increase as global warming occurs and waters rise. You can read more about ghost forests here.


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GHOST TREES

























Every painting leads to another. This painting grew out of Separation. I liked the idea and the image, but felt it needed more contrast. As I was thinking of the tree trunks as ghost-like, I decided to paint them white. This enhanced the sense of presence despite their absence. It is only as an afterthought that we notice the stumps beneath them.

This painting was originally titled Ghost Forest. I changed it to Ghost Trees as I learned that "ghost forest" is a real term, not just one of my invention. The actual ghost forests are created when salt water along the coast rises and surrounds the forest, killing the trees and often turning them white.

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CROW


crow

 This collage was based on a photo I took at sunrise of what I believe to be a crow. The sun reflected off his feathers giving him a golden glow. I learned that with global warming, mosquitoes will be one of the creatures that will thrive. Mosquitoes spread an illness that crows are especially susceptible to so threaten the existence of the crow. You can read more about this threat here.

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THE FLOOD




 
This was my first painting in this series. I was thinking about deforestation and the resulting floods that occur.  I chopped down a few trees to stumps and let the waters flow around them. The stumps appear to dance in the water. The canvas that I used had several paintings on it previously as I often build on  prior efforts. One of the residues that I kept was a rich yellow sky that echoed work I had seen from much earlier periods.


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SKEETERS


skeeters

 This painting is a companion piece to Crow. In the age of global warming, mosquitoes will thrive. They spread a disease to which crows are especially vulnerable. Thus they play an out-sized role in threatening the existence of our crow population. You can read more about this threat here.
 
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GHOST TREE


ghosttree
This collage uses an image of a tree juxtaposed with water to reflect the stump that remains of a tree overtaken by the sea, a portion of a ghost forest.
 
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WATER


water

When I walk with friends I frequently take pictures that end up in collages. In the lower right you can see leaves that were reflected in water. The water is found in the upper left corner and texture unites the two images.
 
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FIREFLIES



fireflies

Fireflies are another creature that are threatened by our destruction of habitat. For many of us, they bring back childhood memories when they were far more prevalent than they are today. That tree in the foreground is my ill-fated elm that fell to Dutch Elm disease. Perhaps this image is a meditation on what once was.

Read more about the impacts of global warming on fireflies here.

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HONEYCOMB



honeycomb

If you look closely in the upper right you will see a bee against honeycomb. The existence of bees is also threatened by environmental change. To lose them means we lose their important role as pollinators which creates a cascade of impacts. Read more about the threat of global warming to bees here and here.
 
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MESSENGER

messenger

 This collage is composed of tree rings. It became a meditation on the idea of recording and sending a message. It is through these tree rings that we know the history of global warming. As I worked with the images, I flashed on familiar objects from an earlier time, a traditional telephone and a record on a record player. Both were communication devices, designed to pass a message on to a larger world. 


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