Arbor Winds, 2016


Location: Stadium Bridge public art project in Ann Arbor, MI

As one drives around Ann Arbor, the gracious stands of trees stand out as a clear expression of the town’s identity so trees have symbolized this arbor town from the beginning.

On a deeper level, the trees as portrayed in the artwork Arbor Winds are a metaphor for our own paradoxical fragility and strength in the context of our life cycles. We speak of having “deep roots” or of “branching out” or of how someone is “blooming”. After a long winter, the return to life of spring is expressed above all through the return of leaves to trees. We all feel the sense of being reborn in the spring with the blossoms and leaves and, in the autumn, the somewhat wistful sadness as the leaves reach their glory of color and then fall.

Arbor Winds evokes not just trees but wind and light as expressions of the energy that surrounds us. In each panel we see the ghostly afterimage as if the wind has blown the tree; we see both moments in time simultaneously. These images etched in glass are like those etched in our memories. We walk through a forest and it is our mental “snapshots” of the branches against the sky or the texture of the thick trunk, or the dense layers of the many trunks silhouetted against the forest underbrush that remain in our memories. Indeed each of these etched images is more the memory of moments rather than a physical reality: a subtle expression of our own ephemeral existence and the light traces we leave behind.


Arbor Winds, 2016 description | video
© Catherine Widgery