Pushing the limits of art.

Today I am full of questions.

When art crosses boundaries that may conflict or challenge social restrictions, how is it different from the limitations an artist comes by when putting up work in a gallery or show? Are they different? Is it important that art push boundaries and speak about the society we live in?

I am speaking about urban art, and even more specifically SUBurban art. What about the suburbs? Very seldom have I seen street art in the suburbs, where much of the country lives today.

Yesterday, I got myself involved in a suburban art project with another friend from OCAC. A couple of us got together for a school project that was all about Guerilla Gardening, (look it up to learn more.) Guerilla gardening is the effort of planting flowers and other plants out in public spaces, that may seem void of natural sustenance. Our project was a little different. We went about taking a young tree from the forest and moving it into someone’s front yard. The task of doing this crosses many lines, but the cause behind it is a statement about the relationship to wildlife in regard to our domesticated lives. In the movie Harold and Maude, Maude takes a tree from an urban environment and moves it into a forest. Our task was in some ways the opposite, moving earth back to its formerly inhabited environment.  Before I got involved in this project, I was not aware of the moral nature and questions I would receive from doing this.  A few questions that came up are:

-Is it wrong to move a tree from its natural habitat, or any plant for that matter?

-(In response to that question…) Have we not done this very thing while we continually put up new housing and buildings all over the world?

-Both of those questions made me consider what we were actually doing: moving a tree back to an environment that it may have once thrived in.

-What is my position and role in this? Who I am to do so and is it wrong to interject and give myself that responsibility?

When I was sitting next to the tree with it in the backseat of the car, I felt confused and uncertain about the transition of life this tree was receiving.  In defense of my moral conflict, we did this with the hope that this tree has the opportunity to bring joy and new life into some other family’s personal environment, but in doing this it brought up fundamental questions. Further, this is also considered trespassing- which can have a very serious fine. We left the tree that had a name tag attached.  It said the tree type, the date, and this:

“The Giving Tree”

In all this, I reside with mixed feelings, but leave it open for the public to consider and interpret. How would you feel if you woke up with a tree planted in your front yard?

Thanks for your time,

an OCAC student


2 Responses to “Pushing the limits of art.”

  1. I feel that its more of a statement rather than a job or responsibility that is going to actually reap much benefit. Not for the individual or the tree in the act of transplanting it, but benefit perhaps in the statement and how it might effect people perceptions. So maybe the responsibility lies in making the statement.

  2. Mark Dion covers a similar issue in his work surrounding the Neukom Vivarium at the Olympic Sculpture Garden in Seattle, Washington.
    He has a story on Art:21 that’s available to view at http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/dion/clip1.html

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