Friday, November 2, 2007

Personification Personified

Remember having to memorize all of those figures of speech in your English classes? The easiest one to remember was personification, giving human qualities to things that are not human. I'm not sure why, but, as a child, I always felt as if trees had human qualities. They just looked and seemed so "alive" to me and they still do. I've spent my whole life surrounded by trees and mountains and I can't imagine not seeing trees when I look out a window. Next to rocks, they're my favorite thing in nature.

Maybe that's why I was so deeply moved when I saw the work of Rachael Direnna of Pittsburgh. Rachael is a self-taught sculptor who works primarily in paper mache (I know there's an accent mark missing but I have no clue how to get it to float over that "e"), which she makes herself from shredded "junk" paper. She credits the thought of making "something from nothing" and being able to recycle paper as reasons why she chose to create with paper clay.
Her subject matter ranges from animals to people to what she calls "nature spirits" or "tree goddesses". I see immense sadness, strength, elegance and grace when I look at her work. Maybe the sadness it invokes in me comes from the bare branches or maybe it's something more than that.

Part of the beauty of art is that it's such a personal thing for everyone. I see wonderful and well-made things just about every day but I'm rarely moved the way I am when I look at Rachael's sculptures. To see lots more of her amazing work, check out her Flickr site. She also has a shop on Etsy where she sells note cards and prints of her work, in addition to the sculptures. Be kind to your trees this weekend!


Jeanne Rhea said...

I love her work! I did not know it was on etsy. I love trees, too. Almost all the photos that I take when I travel are of trees. Friends always ask, "Where are you, your family, your friends?"

Barbara Forbes-Lyons said...

If you are on a Windows PC, alt+0233 on the num pad gets an accented é.

kgose said...

wow....her trees are amazing. I am with you on the tree thing. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I was always surrounded by trees. Now in central Ca...there are trees but different ones and during this time of the year folks "prune" (read butcher) them so they won't have to rake the leaves. oy. Thank you for posting the link to her flickr site.

rachael said...

Thank you very much for this - I was so surprised
& I'm loving your blog

Kim Cavender said...

Thank you, Rachael, for sharing your amazing work. I'm in awe of your talent for making these trees come alive.