Enchanted Space | The Wisdom Tree

at Glimmerglass Festival, Cooperstown NY July 2 - August 23, 2015 


Enchanted Spaces | The Wisdom Tree is a media based landscape installation designed to reflect on local Native American traditions of storytelling. It seeks to inspire tranquil and quiet personal reflection. The Wisdom Tree is a large scale installation that encourages participants to engage directly with nature, art and the creative process. The large sculpted form is framed and built from reclaimed building materials to resemble a tree. It collects old windows, clapboard siding and other architectural remnants from locally found collapsed barns and abandoned buildings. 

Four Native American storytellers from four tribes in the Northeast Native Woodlands Region have been brought together to represent the sacred four directions in the circle of life. Four windows on each side of the tree have been designed to host a single storyteller experience. Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel (Mohegan), Kay Olan (Mohawk), Cheryl Savageau (Abenaki) and Robert Peters (Wampanoag) each provide tales or poems based on Native folklore, which immerse the viewer in a spiritual journey. Viewers are encouraged to open a window and insert their head inside to trigger a motion sensitive speaker which broadcasts a story. The sound and mixed media landscape in the tree’s interior is intended to evoke a group of people gathered around a camp fire telling stories. Each window provides a speculative space where the viewer can engage with the voice an a Native American storyteller via an immersive sculptural environment filled with natural textures, objects and sounds, all manipulated by the artist’s hand. This enchanted adventure is further intensified as a shared experience with multiple viewers’ faces positioned in the surrounding windows, resembling an inverted totem pole. 

Finally, those brave enough to crawl inside the trunk will have a special aural experience that will resonate in a very ‘magical’ way.

Acknowledgments to Paul Cegys as Associate Media Designer and thanks to all the support from The Glimmerglass Festival.

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