In early childhood, we all learned you can count the rings of a tree to estimate its age. Perhaps in later biological training, you learned about a plant’s secondary growth patterns and later yet about vascular cambium and the meristem. Although trees themselves are obviously beautiful, few consider tree rings - a part of the tree only visible in cross section - to the meticulous degree of Bryan Nash Gill.
To say that Gill works closely with his subjects, trees, would be an understatement. Scouring lumber mills, land fills, and the even the side of the road, Gill collects lumber cutoffs and creates prints that resemble finger prints. Gill begins by rolling ink on the surface of the cutoff before placing the wood on handmade okawara paper. Next, he traces the wood’s every curve with his fingertips and fingernails to ensure that no contour is left unrecorded. The resulting print, a direct translation of the tree’s unique features, personifies nature, granting an identity to the previously anonymous structure.
Consider the Southport Oak, right, as compared to the Black Locust tree, above; each subject, both previously discarded as scrap, has a clear identity. In personifying nature, Gill provides the viewer with an opportunity to consider humankind as part of nature, rather than the detached faction that we often view ourselves as. The ability to view the world through such a lens is a key step towards motivating the world to adopt a sustainable lifestyle.