The Red Tree

The Red Tree at the JW Clay station is based on the branching structure of trees and the relationship of this structure to the patterns of growth and movement found throughout nature — at both the macro and micro scale. The very same pattern can be found in blood vessels, the nervous system of living creatures, snowflakes, and even mountain formations, as well as in many man-made forms. I have long been fascinated by this structure and often find myself in awe of Charlotte’s magnificent trees. While trees with leaves offer softness and shade, when trees shed their leaves they reveal their all-important underlying support — the skeletal and circulatory systems. These systems closely relate to the transportation function of the light rail. Transportation provides structure, form, and a means of connection for a city. Transportation is, in a sense, the life-blood of a community.

For The Red Tree, I focused on the resemblance of the tree form and its branches to a city map and to the network of connections both a map and branches represent. I began by photographing large trees in Charlotte and then created line drawings from these photographs and added color. Rather than presenting a straightforward image of a single tree, I pieced together triangular segments to construct a large, overall tree-like form. The triangular sections of this “tree” are reminiscent of city neighborhoods that, while they may have distinct characters, come together to make up a communal whole. The dominant color of the tree can be seen as a reference to Charlotte’s red clay soil. So, the image embodies two important and emblematic features of Charlotte – the soil color and tree canopy. It also speaks to the city’s continuing growth and the connections that transportation helps make happen.

— Susan Brenner

All material © 2018 Susan Brenner or the respective owners.