­­­­­­­Tree in Tree

Karen McCoy with Matthew Dehaemers, and members of the Osage nation, Kennedy Forest, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO, 2004

Osage Orange sapling planted inside a hollow red oak tree trunk, the hollow trunk and all fallen branches within a 50' diameter circle were charred, an Osage Orange stake carved with a lightening bolt and painted with natural pigments by Sean StandingBear tethers a low-growing branch to the ground to configure its shape it as it grows, a native wildflower garden was planted in the 50' diameter clearing surrounding central trees. The garden contains native Iris, Golden Ragwort, Barren Strawberry, Clark's Anemone, Robin's Plantain and Columbine. Dimensions: hollow red oak - 17' T x 40" diameter, site - 50' diameter.

This site honors the ancient Osage Indian presence in Missouri. An Osage Orange sapling has been planted within the hollow trunk of an old red oak tree.  One branch of the sapling has been drawn through the eastern side of the trunk and tethered. The planting of the sapling itself symbolizes a "re-rooting" of the Osage in the earth of their ancestral homeland. Indians of North America often manipulated trees by bending branches, or trunks, as the trees were growing.  These marker, or guide trees, usually pointed the way to water or sacred places.  The tethered branch, in this tree, points eastward.  The Osage consider that they are always traveling in an easterly direction on their life paths.  This is a conceptual journey they take each day. The orientation towards the rising sun is also a metaphor for a new beginning.  It is a gesture of support and hope for the revitalization of Osage culture and language, the growth of more positive relations within and between cultures, and the generation of more positive conditions for the environment we all share.

Created for the National Bicentennial commemoration of the Louisiana Purchase in 2004. The project was sponsored by the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial ArtsPlan funded by the National Endowment for the Arts in collaboration with the Missouri Arts Council. The program was administerd by the National Assembly of the State Arts Agencies and the New England foundation for the Arts. Karen McCoy, Lead Artist and Mathew Dehaemers, Regional Artist, Lewis and Clark ArtsCorps for the greater metropolitan St. Louis region. Special thanks to the St Louis Parks and Forestry Departments, Washington University School of Fine Arts and members of the Osage Nation.