artist statement: letting go

Letting Go (Waterloo, Ontario)

Birch trees, with their curled and peeling outer bark have always fascinated. But, why is their bark like that?

Trees have two main layers of bark, a living, growing inner layer, and a dead outer layer. As the inner layer grows, it pushes outward causing the outer bark to split. On birch trees this splitting is known as exfoliation, and results in the shredding and peeling of the outer bark that is so commonly seen. Among other things, exfoliation enables the tree to grow all year long, even without leaves, because sunlight is able to reach the inner bark layers that are capable of performing photosynthesis.

Exfoliation of the outer bark on trees can be thought of as letting go of the old, or the past, so that new growth can occur. Birch trees do this in such a beautiful, practical, artistic and sculptural way … I wonder, are there lessons in there for us humans?

Note: Yellow birch is the species of birch featured in these images.


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