Philip C. Hultgren
All of my work explores the harmony that naturally exists in a tree. Each piece incorporates various aspects of the whole tree such as ingrown bark, rot, termite damage, crotch grain, and straight grain. These multiple elements, while very different, live and work collaboratively in a single life form we recognize as a tree. I believe humanity can learn a great deal from a tree.
We are not all the same, not in abilities, ages, economics, races, genders, or placement on this earth. And yet it seems that we are being compelled to be part of groups with singular lowest common denominators. As more perfect duplicates of everything are being created, conformity is the ideal. Individuality is expressed by conforming. Conventional wisdom holds that the best way to function as a society is for everyone to live the same way, want the same things, and believe the same things are right for everyone. Of course, it doesn’t work that way. Those who don’t “fit in” are excluded, shut out, and marginalized.
Revealing and displaying the rot and the heartwood together as one beautiful piece is, then, to speak the unspeakable. It is to proclaim that there is a relationship and harmony between discordant parts, a sympathetic relationship between opposing elements. The beautiful solid grain connected to rot and voids mirrors ourselves and our society.
Each one of us lives each day with both the creation and death of cells, organs, beliefs and behaviors. Our bodies are both regenerating and rotting, yet we are one body, one life.
In our society we live interconnected to each other as well. There is no escaping the fact that the CEO is related to the homeless, the physically and mentally challenged to the professional athlete, the starving to the obese, and the victim to the self-righteous. We are all part of the same whole called humanity.
A tree is not all “perfect” wood, nor is it all void and rot. It is my hope that one will see in my work the beautiful harmony that exists in the diversity of a tree. Perhaps then we can begin to recognize the benefits and beauty of our own diversity. All parts are not the same, but as in a tree, all the differences working together create a beautiful harmonious creation.
I seek to unveil this beauty and balance in designs of simplicity and grace. I invite everyone to touch these pieces and connect with the harmony of a tree.