The Coming Soil
shou sugi ban treated cedar, fallen tree, various fruiting mushrooms
Created during Tom's Residency at Belwin Conservancy, The Coming Soil is set within Restored Oak Savanah. Constructed with shou-sugi ban cedar to reflect the role fire plays within the restoration and ongoing health of this ecosystem, three wooden panel walls house a fallen aspen tree fruiting a variety of mushrooms. A single bench sits in front of the log to provide opportunity to spend time within the structure.
The fallen tree was found a half a mile from the site within the savannah, home to a variety of fungal life. Placed within the structure, the tree provides opportunity for viewers to contemplate decay, the life of the tree after it falls, and the role fungi play in our ecosystems
Over the course of the three month residency, I was able to wander the oak savannah, familiarizing myself with the grounds to inspire the form of the work. I knew I wanted to center the work on the idea of decay and the roll Fungi play in our ecosystem, but beyond that, things were up in the air. During each hike, I would record one of John Cage's 4:33's, and take that recording with me back to the studio. Over countless hikes and discussions with Susan Haugh, Belwin's Program Director, we found the site for the piece. A ring of oak trees encircling the work with limbs entangling above it, creating a sense of interior and a cathedral like space.
During my residency, I held a workshop in which participants went on their own hikes to record a 4:33. Below is a sound map of the savannah through their recordings.
Thank you to the staff at Belwin Conservatory, Susan Haugh, the jurors, and the participants of the workshop for making this work.