A Garden of Enigmas


Second Nature with tree, by Kyle Dillehay


A sterile white cubicle is transformed into a mysterious earthwork in Lines of the Earth, an installation by artist Kyle Dillehay. This site-specific work, opening Oct. 10 at the Woolworth Building, illuminates the way natural systems – of the human body, of nature’s flora – share an interconnectedness in the grand scheme of life. Upon a white backdrop, Dillehay employs the root systems of plants to show how seemingly disparate systems – of the body (lymphatic, circulatory, reproductive) and the earth (plant vascular, seed and root systems) – are, in fact, similar in purpose and design.

“Since having my two babies, I have become much more concerned with the quality of the food that we eat,” says Dillehay, a recognized sculptor, and an instructor of sculpture and photography at Tacoma Community College. “So, I have been growing much of my own food using heirloom varietals in hopes of avoiding any genetically modified plants and obtaining the highest quality of food possible. As these food-bearing plants mature and die, I remove them from the soil and dry them in order to preserve their root structures as much as possible.” The plants find a second life as elements in Dillehay’s art work. In Lines of the Earth, they spring from lifeless white walls and reach toward a suspended cube of fertile earth, thus mirroring the human instinct to find a quality environment to thrive in. The image is a compelling one: As societal pressures, consumerism, industrialization and environmental degradation increase worldwide, so does the need to produce food – whether from pure organic or genetically modified sources.


Sacred Balance, by Kyle Dillehay


In an earlier installation, Dispersal, Dillehay explored a fascination with seeds and their dispersal mechanisms, which he sees as a metaphor for the circulation and longevity of knowledge, as well as representing the evolution of life itself. Dillehay says the plant metaphor can be stretched to include non-living, physical entities such as high-technology and the Web, which form a near-universal network for human consciousness and community. Both cultural and biological diversity are necessary to the health of the species.


Installation by Kyle Dillehay


An accomplished sculptor who has executed large-scale public works, Dillehay is currently working with TCC students to build an iron-melting furnace for the sculpture department, as well as designing and constructing a peace monument for the campus. Lines of the Earth, Woolworth Building, 
11th & Broadway
, Oct. 9, 2010 – Jan. 5, 2011. www.sculpture.org/portfolio/sculptorPage.php?sculptor_id=1001643

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