The Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) is a robust tree, native to the forests of North America. It supports diverse populations of insects, birds, and mammals. Considered a ‘pioneer species,’ the Black Cherry is responsible for preparing the forest floor to nourish new organisms in search of a home. This installation, titled Black Cherry, is designed to recall that natural arboreal habitat, using cut sections of a felled Black Cherry arranged across the gallery floor, each sprouting a graceful metal rod supporting a transparent IV bag. The juxtaposition of the natural and the man-made creates a jarring image of a forest in distress.
Black Cherry is based on carefully researched data and each element has both a metaphorical and a quantitative meaning. The size of each tree section is related to the physical size of each of the 50 United States.* The height of each rod is related to the number of people born in each state based on data extracted in November, 2020 from the United States Census Bureau database. The volume of liquid in each IV bag represents the number of immigrants residing in each of the states based on data extracted in November, 2020 from the United States Census Bureau database and estimates by the Center for Migration Studies.
Black Cherry uses this data to create a parallel between the forest and the immigration process, showing that diversity is necessary to keep both people and place alive. Together, the elements of the installation serve as a metaphor for the importance of living in the midst of diversity; a forest survives because of each individual organism inside it, and much like a community, flourishes when the diverse inhabitants can work together in a network of support.
This exhibition is part of Activism in the Arts and is funded, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Felipe Shibuya is a Brazilian ecologist and bio-artist who holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Nature Conservation from the Universidade Federal do ParanÃ¡ and is currently an M.F.A. candidate in Studio Art at the University at Buffalo. Black Cherry builds on the science of dendrochronology, the technique of dating events, environmental change, and archaeological artifacts by using the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings in timber and tree trunks.
Although we are not hosting opening receptions at this time, we are open to the public Tuesday-Friday, 11-5pm, and Saturday, 10-2pm. We will also present a virtual tour and artist talk via Facebook Live Event at 6:00 pm, Friday, January 22, 2021.