Artist’s Statement by Gail Blum – My goal was to create a Tree of Life that went beyond a single image—to create a triptych that allowed for three ways of viewing the Tree and honoring three women from our Peace community—Mary Martin, Barb Forrest, and Leigh McMullen. I wanted to make visible that process that creates the Peace Tree of Life. The bright nails provide the structure: the events, meetings, services, projects, meals. The string traces the interactions of all the people weaving through these activities, each of us leaving a trace of ourselves in the pattern that emerges. I then selected a color for each of the three women, to make visible their role in creating our Peace Tree of Life.
A tree’s cross-section reveals its age, changes in the climate, its wounds and healing. A cross-section shows the strength and density of the trunk. The nails and knots in this section are very tightly woven to provide a sense of that strength of fiber, that steadfastness. Mary Martin made me feel anchored by her practical, sturdy perspective, her strength, and her love. Her color is blue.
The branches of the tree allow sway and bend—that flexibility that is essential to a thriving tree—and a community. Broken branches allow for new growth—the trees of the future. Branches reaching, touching, tangling host myriad forms of life. I find delight, drama, and intimacy in the movement of branches. They create an open and dynamic web. Barb Forrest delighted me. I felt her presence everywhere at Peace. Her color is forest green, and she is tangled gracefully in the branches of our Peace Tree.
The roots of our tree are deep, broad, and seeking. There is little empty space in the ground beneath our tree. Roots create a matrix more than a pattern. Heavier tap roots branch into more delicate roots, then into almost hair-like tendrils—seeking, discovering. Leigh McMullen was a radiant, strong, rooted woman. She tenderly challenged her yoga students to find their own unique growing edge. Her color is purple, and her influence in our community will always be woven throughout the roots of our Peace Tree of Life.