Spirit of the Ashes

Spirit of the Ashes was born out of my grieving for “The Friends of my Childhood”*. Ash trees had been wiped out in the last few years across America. This calamity went largely unnoticed by your average American, but for me it was like a call to arms. Our habitat is degrading at such a rapid rate, things that I always took for granted are now no more. The ubiquitous Gray Ash has been devoured by an insidious larva, The Emerald Ash Bore. An invasive species from China, our ash is defenseless against an invader that was never supposed to be on this continent. It tunnels through their delicate cambium layer (between the bark and wood), and severs its ability to transfer nutrients to the roots and moisture to the leaves. Basically, it starves to death. Graceful ash groves among the most common in America, are now left these ghastly, peeling, orange barked zombies that come crashing down as sickly skeletons, never to give shade and habitat again. A crisis that has effected me more than I knew. The wood I used is as beautiful as it is useful. The graceful profiles of their huge trunks had inspired many of my landscapes. The patterns in their bark are so cleanly etched as they expand in girth with their tell-tale cross hatching is a thing to behold. More dramatic than most other trees if you ever took the time to look. Now it is too late!
The Spirit of the Ash is the Great Mother Ash looking down on her fallen children in utter despair. I chose a primitive vernacular to lend an ancient almost timeless pagan spirit that predates our notion of God. “Mother Nature” if you will, and she is bent in mourning. Her last thought rising, spiraling like the smoldering wisp of the last ash on earth. It is one of dismay and utter bewilderment. She is sorrowful and shows the battle scars of her Nemesis, The E.O.B. on her epaulets. It is made of the dead shards of ash ravaged by this plague. It has always been a wonderful material that was very common and well loved by woodworkers who never threatened their survival as the dreaded Bore has done. I can “read” its grain like no other wood. It has been a source of inspiration for me all my years as an artist and woodworker and never took their beauty for granted. Now it is a source of pain. The least I could do is mourn its passing with: “The Spirit of the Ashes” 2022. Encaustic on Ash. 26” wide, x 20” deep, x 36” high.