This past summer my family stopped by the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest near Robbinsville, North Carolina on our way home from a summer vacation. We had heard about the legendary hemlock and popular trees, the largest trees in one of the U.S.'s last virgin forests. What we did not know is that the hemlock trees had been infested by a beetle from Asia, the wooly adelgid. The trees were felled to keep them from falling on visitors, but they were felled with dynamite in an attempt to mimic the effects of a storm. Unfortunately, the exploded trees along the trail just looked like a battle field. Ironically, the forest was named after the WWI soldier and poet, Joyce Kilmer, known for his most famous poem, "Trees."
Joyce Kilmer was killed by an explosion during the Battle of the Marne in World War I. The place where he went to find peace and solace inspired him to write his most famous poem. Now the forest reminds visitors of the horrors of the war that killed the poet.
The layers of irony in the story inspired me to create a photorealistic graphite drawing of one of the fallen trees for my Advanced Drawing class. I think a photorealistic drawing of one of the trees says something different than the photograph itself. Seeing the drawing of the tree causes the viewer to ask questions about why someone would spend over sixty hours drawing a fallen tree. Once the viewer is engaged, they are more interested in hearing the story.
As a follow up project, I used graphite and acrylic paint to illustrate a dead WWI soldier inside a fallen tree infested by wooly adelgid beetles. I found fake plywood board and thought it would be appropriate to my topic to draw trees on fake woodgrain, but the material proved to be extremely difficult to work with so I was less satisfied with my results. I reworked the piece three times, even using a wall installation once, but the piece proved to be more frustrating than effective.