The Lyndon House Arts Center is currently spotlighting an almost three-month exhibit dedicated to the late and famous oak willow tree that has graced the home’s lawn for more than a century.
The exhibition itself features works of art created and inspired by the tree by a myriad of local artists. Each artist received a piece of wood salvaged from the tree to incorporate into their art.
The oak willow was incredibly cherished by those associated with House Lyndon, but was retired in 2016. It graced the entrance to the center for about 150 years. The exhibition represents the impact of the tree on the community of Athens and those enriched by the galleries, studios and classrooms of the center.
Beth Sale, program specialist for Lyndon House, highlighted the impact of the tree.
“The tree was such an important part of the art centre’s landscape for so many who have worked here and visited,” Sale said. “The idea of this wood coming back into the building was really important.”
The gallery started on August 28 and will be on view until November 18. Those interested can enjoy the original art and attend various virtual and in-person events. Artists and other performers, such as dancers, poets and musicians, will describe and present their work dedicated to the tree to bring the audience closer to their work and experience.
The exhibit kicked off with guest curator Abraham Tesser, professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, who presented the Willow Oak Tree exhibit on August 28 at Lyndon House. Attendees were able to connect virtually or in person to hear Tesser explain the history of the tree, the motives behind the creation of the gallery and express how much the tree meant to him, other artists and those who are heavily involved in Lyndon House.
“Over time it has become a symbol of art in Athens,” Tesser said. “I would say we all have a connection to old trees – there’s a romance about them. So when we lose one, it’s a little difficult. But when you work with the [tree] material, and you see it up close, that makes it special in a whole new way. “
Tesser is also a practitioner of studio art furniture making and has a piece in the show. His work is a stand in tribute to the Athens music scene, which “seems to extend the mission of Willow Oak”, according to his artist’s account for the exhibition.
Upcoming events include the Small Box series, which features dancers, actors, voice artists and more performing on a 4×4 box on September 25 in person. Below is a conference with various artists on October 21 and a symposium featuring virtual presentations and guest speeches covering the exhibition on October 30, both on Zoom.
Topics covered at the symposium include timber framing, sculptural storytelling, and principles of public art.
Sale explained how this particular exhibit differs significantly from any other exhibit at Lyndon House and why this project was so beloved.
“We’ve never had an exhibit where there was a common theme and shared material to use between the artists, as well as an exhibit dedicated to a tree that once was on our lawn,” Sale said. “It’s taking something that was once part of the arts center and reinterpreting it in a new way to temporarily become a new part of the center.”
Everyone is welcome to visit the gallery for free, with no online registration required. To attend the events, whether in Zoom or in person, those interested should register online through the centre’s website, Instagram page or Facebook.