Dripline Drawing #1: Fallen Brothers
Dripline Drawing #1: Fallen Brothers.
Fort Worden State Park. Port Townsend, WA. 2009
White flour, four living poplar trees, seven departed trees. (Populus nigra?)
300 feet x 40 feet
A row of poplars stands in relationship, a family of seedings bound together by virtue of having been planted along a surveyed line, geometrically spaced to please a human architect. Poplars grow quickly and most do not live longer than a few decades. They are planted to form a sacrificial windbreak, to protect the slower-growing plantings, especially in wind-torn areas such as the bluffs of Fort Worden.
Their lot is that of a frontline of infantrymen: stalwarts performing the toughest job, quietly accepting orders, leaning into the winds as fate may play out. This line of poplars at Fort Worden: four living trees, seven departed trees.
Poplars are often planted in a row as windbreaks, as fast-growing sacrificial trees which protect the slower growing plantings, especially in wind-torn areas such as the bluffs of Fort Worden. Now a State Park, the Fort was built in the 1890's.
I used white flour to draw the outlines of the root-systems of the poplar trees. While making this 300 foot-long drawing, I discovered the hollows in the ground, where other poplars had once stood.
With white flour, I also marked the concave depressions, where poplars once took root and joined with the souls standing to either side, one right, one left. These empty hollows reveal the memory of fallen brothers, carved out of the earth when the tree died.
This drawing makes the "invisible", visible. First, the dripline reveals the rootsystem, and that shape tells us a story of the tree's life. Then, the hollows revealing the memory, carved out of the earth, where the deceased trees had stood. this is an apt metaphor for the infantrymen stationed at this old Fort.