Trees and slow-turning “leaf mobiles” become metaphorical vehicles for human memory in the Scott Huette and Sisy Anderson art work, Remembrances. This mixed-media installation, which opens on Oct. 9 at 9th & Broadway, suggests that by our ability to shade discrete memories, and to shed those that do not serve us (“as a leaf falls from a tree in autumn”), human beings create the psychological space needed to generate life anew.
Remembrances is a collaborative work that fuses Anderson’s training in both Eastern and Western brush painting with Huette’s knowledge of photography, from 21st-century digital to 19th-century processing techniques. The site-specific piece is structured around three 15-ft. hanging scrolls, each bearing a different perspective of forest imagery that evokes a shifting sense of distance and the passing of time. A series of vertical mobiles made with leaves that are hand-painted on one side with photo transfers on the reverse, further conjures the sense of being within a woodland of captured moments.
The Eugene, OR-based artists and life partners profess a life-long appreciation for nature; the inspiration for Remembrances came while the two were traveling together, “Where we do our best thinking,” says Huette. “We got into a conversation about how seasons represent different aspects of the human psyche. Both of us have a profound interest in and love of Eastern mysticism, especially Taoism and hatha yoga.” A core idea of the work is how certain memories seem to enhance life, while others may inhibit it in some manner – yet humans possess the capacity to prune and trim the personal narrative, as it were. The cyclical nature of the seasons, of transformation, death and rebirth, offers “a metaphor for our personal journey.”
For Anderson, a passage about trees from Herman Hesse’s Wandering provided a point of departure: “Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.” They are sentinels that tower over the human drama, silent, impassive and long-lived.
For Anderson and Huette, collaboration is like a complex duet. “I have a tendency to become overly technical, mental and rigid in my creative process, which I see as one of the challenges of working with technology,” says Huette. “Sisy’s tendency is to approach the intuitive, emotional and fluid as a starting point in her creative process. The challenge is in marrying these two processes into a unified whole.” In the finished piece, “All elements are balanced, well designed and thoughtfully composed between emotional, energetic and technical aspects.”
In Remembrances, a work created for the Artscapes track of Spaceworks Tacoma, every detail was considered, including the choice of leaves. “We specifically chose to work with the leaves of the Big Leaf Maple for this project,” says Huette. “As a deciduous tree the Big Leaf Maple well represents the shedding and letting go process that we wanted to communicate. In addition, the leaves are beautiful, with a great deal of variety in color. They are quite large, making them the perfect size for our installation.” Remembrances, 9th & Broadway, Oct. 9, 2010 – Jan. 5, 2011. www.studiocartouche.com; www.studioyugen.com.