In his art practice, Andre Woodward examines the complex human relationships with nature. At the center of his Art & Nature 2023 installation at the Laguna Art Museum he draws attention to California’s Coastal Redwoods (sequoia sempervirens), the tallest trees on earth able to live to be 2500 years old. Today, there are less than 5% of old growth coastal redwood forests left due to the merciless harvesting of the wood for human consumption in the 19th to early 20th centuries. The loss of these forests and the biodiversity they supported has markedly contributed to today’s issues with climate and environment.
Woodward’s installation is an arrangement of redwood burls that were once fashioned into coffee tables. Within these slices of tree, Woodward imagines that ancient redwood spirits still dwell. He helps the viewer come to the same conclusion by positioning each on long legs and orienting the wood so the viewer anthropomorphizes the natural crevices, openings and growth patterns of each piece. Surrounding the spirits are trees encased in cement cubes and a speaker installation emitting a soundtrack of ancient forests, vocal recordings and sounds of urban life – all of which represent today’s complex natural world. The installation and its title are inspired by, and a play on, Auguste Rodin’s bronze sculptural installation Burghers of Calais, an arrangement of six wealthy men of the bourgeoisie class who intended to sacrifice themselves to save the town of Calais from total annihilation. Woodward’s arrangement reenacts this story and presents us with a nightmarish confrontation: now after decades of sleep in the mid-century shag carpeted dens of California these spirits have awakened to view the world as we have made it.
Andre Woodward is a Southern California artist whose work examines the very complicated relationship we have with nature. Born in Newport Beach, he received an MFA Cum Laude from California State University Long Beach a BA form The University of California at Irvine. Woodward’s work has been exhibited internationally and featured in print form in The Language of Mixed-Media Sculpture, My Green City, and Sculpture Magazine. Woodward has received several honors, including a Center for Creative Innovation Grant and the 2011 Visions from the New California award.
Andre Woodward’s intriguing sculptures address the interconnectedness of man and nature. He reconfigures the mundane into multi-sensory installations that focus on the perception of reality, proffering a fascinating paradox of interconnectivity and individuality. His passion for understanding and conceptualizing systems has led to his oeuvre embracing unusual combinations of media that create a powerful force field.
His most recent work examines the lives of the oldest, heaviest, and tallest living organisms on the planet: Ancient Bristlecones, Giant Sequoia, and Coastal Redwoods. “Woodward casts trees in concrete, almost as a strange play on the traditions of bonsai. combining his passion for biology and fine art, he has long been interested in the contemporary landscape that surrounds us-concrete parking lots pressing down the roots of trees: the façade of heavily manicured parks and neighborhoods; and the constant push and pull of negotiating an environment made up of both the natural and manmade. His sculptures nod to the cubes of Donald Judd, while foliage outgrowth interrupts the severity of Judd’s minimalism. Woodward states, ” I think of the work in terms of a paradox, which leads to the gaining of a sort of spiritual awareness. The truth of the matter is that our human environment is dictated by a perpetual struggle for control for control between the human and natural environments, where at any given moment one or the other will have the advantage.” Grace Kook Anderson
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