I've written here before about Edward Steichen's shadblow tree, a small tree outside the window of his home in West Redding, Connecticut. Steichen, tired of the rigors of fashion photography and museum administration (he was the director of the Department of Photography at MOMA), found inspiration in this small tree and photographed it exclusively for six years. Steichen found great meaning in the seemingly insignificant tree. To him it represented the changing and cyclical nature of life.
I've often found inspiration in Steichen's obsession with his tree. An artist must often imposes self-limitations in order to find the essence his or her work. I've given much thought as to how I might find something worthy of such singular focus; a subject that I could work with for years as both it and I changes through the passage of life.
There is a tree in our town park that I find utterly captivating. A large eucalyptus tree, it has endured storms and tree-surgeons' amputations. It is a non-native plant and, thus, will probably someday be cut down. They have been systematically removing the eucalyptus trees from our town and I fear this one is already on Death Row.
These trees shed bark, and nuts, and leaves like no other. They are a fire hazard and their limbs tend to twist off in ugly ways during storms of high wind. Lots of people find them to be problematic. I think they are quite lovely in their own way and am saddened when I travel around the neighborhood and find yet another gone, victim of native-plant awareness.
Maybe this tree is a symbol of my awkwardness as it relates to political correctness (botanical correctness?). Maybe I see the underdog in this lone, remaining eucalyptus. I root for it, hope it makes it through the impending winter and her winds. Whether I photograph the tree every day is another question. But, I will give regular updates in this blog.