Tree Lines is about how humans and trees exist together. The strong lines in the drawings and prints by Julia Samuels, Paul Olson and David Barthold capture aspects of our human/nature relationship. For Paul the relationship is a reverence for the preserved character of trees, for David it’s the compelling and disturbing elements of the “natural,” and for Julia it’s the lines of power that confine and redefine nature in the streets of Pawtucket and Providence. As the trees around us change this autumn, let these artists inspire you to look more closely at the natural in our everyday , appreciate the elegant lines of bared limbs, and see with clear eyes what was once hidden by their foliage.
Show Curated by Hannah Purcell Martin
Julia Samuels is sharply observant of nature in urban environments. Her prints focus on the conflict and triumph of small moments in human controlled landscapes; these are the visual moments we often edit out of daily walks and routines. She makes us look at patterns and shapes created by the growth in highway medians and see the irony in the intersection of Garden and Cedars street in Pawtucket, an intersection dominated by an EZ-Off Dunkin Doughnut sign. Documentation of this conflict, what we wish from our environments and our reality of nature squeezing in by climbing telephone poles, covering transformer boxes and living through references on street signs is the goal. As Julia would say “You can’t make this up.”
Julia Samuels is director and master printer at Overpass Projects, an all-inclusive fine printmaking publisher in Providence, RI. She worked to develop The Gowanus Studio Space in Brooklyn NY and 596 Acres, a program that helped NYC locals unlock the potential of vacant lots for community gardens. For more about Julia check out overpassprojects.com and @crayolajunkie
Paul Olson loves trees. The drawings shown here were all created while visiting the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. Walking the grounds he is inspired and surprised by the majesty of trees in their natural form. His drawing of the noble Pseudotsuga menziesii (blue douglas fir) and the hunched Crataegus fontanesiana capture the personality of these trees as an illustrator captures a likeness in a portrait. His paintings of “White Pine” and “Nikko Fir” were started in the Arnold Arboretum in Boston but came to life in the studio through the process of mounting paper on canvas and adding paint to create colorful landscapes. By keeping his appreciation for trees tightly tied to his work Paul honors these characters of the forest.
Paul Olson is a Senior Critic in the Illustration Department at Rhode Island School of Design and Visiting Lecturer in the Illustration Department at Massachusetts College of Art. He makes bonsai pots that he sells under the name Clam Alley Pottery. His pots have received recognition at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the National Arboretum in Washington DC and are for sale at Homegrown in Providence. For more information about Paul Olson check out clamalleypots.com and @olsenpaintings.
David Barthold knows the importance of a line because he is a contemporary artist making engravings, a method of printmaking that requires every line to be physically cut into a metal plate that will later be inked and printed. This method is lengthy and causes him to further research the stories behind the animals, insects and trees that appear in his work. The trees in David’s work are true city trees. These trees bear the scars from car impacts. Their form is unintentionally designed by the constrainting sidewalks and trimming to accommodate the buildings. He captures the sad strength that is gathered through these experiences; a texture of persistence, abuse and healing.
David Barthold most recent print honors the life and work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He studied printmaking at Oberlin College, and in Paris with Stanley William Hayter and is an artist at Overpass Projects in Providence RI. For more information about David Barthold check out davidbarthold.net