Waltzers, 2013, by Joseph Wheelwright

Made from pine roots
Photo credit:  Billy Sims

Branching Out: Trees as Art

On view September 27, 2014 to September 20, 2015

Located in the: Art & Nature Center

This exhibition explores the often surprising ways in which contemporary artists use trees as an inspiration as well as a medium for their art.  Made from bark, wood, roots, seedpods, leaves and sap, over 30 varied works and a selection of hands-on interactive opportunities ask us to consider our relationship with trees as a vital natural force.  From Diego Stocco's music compositions made with trees and leaves to Joseph Wheelwright's figurative root sculptures, this exhibition celebrates the varied ways in which people are connected to and creatively inspired by trees. 

Support provided by the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.

Related Events

Branching Out: Trees as Art ›
Opening Day Festival
Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 10:30am - 4pm

Included with museum admission

From the mysteries of enchanted forests to the welcoming shade-givers in our backyards, trees captivate our imaginations. Join us for a day of exploring trees through art making, stories, music, artist talks and more.


Story Time

Tree Tales
10:30-11 am | meet at information desk
For ages 3 to 7 with an adult

When Maple was born, her parents planted a tree so that she and the tree could grow together. Her tree becomes a friend, but how else might you see a tree? Find out as we read Lori Nichols' Maple followed by Barbara Reid's Picture a Tree.


Drop-in Art Making

Greenman Masks
10:30 am-12:30 pm | Atrium

Also known as the Wild Man of the Woods, the Greenman is a mythical figure who appears as a leaf-covered face carved on buildings across Europe. Create your own forest-inspired mask and get in touch with your inner tree spirit.


Artist Demonstration

Bonsai Techniques
10:30 am-1:30 pm | Atrium

Meet bonsai experts from New England Bonsai Gardens and find out what tools and techniques are necessary to create these living works of art.



Tree Planting
11-11:15 am | Meet at information desk

Join us as we plant a new tree to mark the opening of Branching Out, including a "grounding" treatment by The Tree Whisperer and plant pathologist Jim Conroy, Ph.D. Dedication in memory of honorary trustee Dorothy "Dotty" Addams Brown.



In the Grove with Diane Edgecomb
11:30 am-12:30 pm and 2:30-3:30 pm | Morse Auditorium
For ages 10 to adult
Tickets available day of program

Award-winning storyteller Diane Edgecomb returns to PEM with harpist Margot Chamberlain to share stories and songs about trees and the people who live among them.



Connect with Green Beings
11:30 am-noon and 3-3:30 pm
Meet at information desk | For ages 8 to adult
Tickets available day of program

Join nature communication experts Jim Conroy, Ph.D. and Basia Alexander in a unique guided visualization exercise with live trees on PEM's campus.



Music from the Forests
Noon-12:45 pm | Atrium

Musician and international performer Ricardo Frota uses handmade instruments to explore the ecology of sound through rhythm and materials of the forest.


Drop-in Art Making

Tagua Nut Scrimshaw
Noon-2 pm | Create Space 2
For ages 10 to adult

Carve your own tree-inspired design on these tropical seeds. Note: Tagua nuts are not known allergens but visitors with nut allergies should be aware.



Strolling Trees
Noon-4 pm | Atrium
Essex Street pedestrian mall and Art & Nature Center

Whimsical walking tree figures, created by Ten31 Productions, make their way around the museum.


Artist Presentation

Exploring Trees as Live Beings
1-1:45 pm | Morse Auditorium
For preteens through adults
Tickets available day of program

Artist David Yann Robert and plant pathologist Jim Conroy, Ph.D., demonstrate how they each interact with the biosignals of trees.


Drop-in Art Making

Bark Rubbings and Tracings
1-4 pm | outside PEM

Investigate the beauty and science of tree trunks with specialist Michael Wojcek and create an enhanced bark drawing to take home.



Tree Tastings
2-4 pm | Atrium

Meet experts from Taza Chocolate the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary to discover how chocolate and maple syrup are made, then try samples created here in Massachusetts.


Artist Demo & Maker Challenge

Tree Biosignals
2:15-4 pm | Maker Lounge
For preteens through adults

See and hear biosignals made by a live plant with David Yann Robert, an artist in Branching Out. Then experiment with converting live cell signals into an original work of art.


Artist Presentation

Human Trees
3-3:45 pm | Bartlett Gallery
Tickets available day of program
For preteens through adults

Branching Out artist Joseph Wheelwright shares the inspiration and methods behind his large-scale tree people and intimate root-figure creations.


Made possible by the Lowell Institute


Members' Breakfast ›
Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 9:30am - 11am

Members and their children/grandchildren at the Family, Sponsor, Patron and Benefactor levels are invited to celebrate the opening of Branching Out. In addition to a breakfast buffet, guests will enjoy a forest-inspired musical performance by percussionist Ricardo Frota.
Reservations at support.pem.org or 978-542-1641; space is limited

Backyard Heroes › For ages 5 to 8 with an adult
Story Trails
Sunday, October 5, 2014 from 2pm - 3pm
Tickets available on day of program

Do you really know what goes on in your backyard under the light of the moon? William Joyce imagines a mighty kingdom of insects and their protectors, in his book The Leaf Men. Join us as we explore Branching Out in the Art & Nature Center and create your own plant-inspired character designs!


Made possible by the Lowell Institute

Further Reading