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"There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks.  Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story." ~Linda Hogan

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Tree of Liberty

Tree of Liberty - Art Trees

According to E. Cobham Brewer in The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1894), the "Tree of Liberty is a tree set up by the people, hung with flags and devices, and crowned with a cap of liberty.  The Americans of the United States planted poplars and other trees during the war of independence, “as symbols of growing freedom.”  The Jacobins in Paris planted their first tree of liberty in 1790.  The symbols used in France to decorate their trees of liberty were tricoloured ribbons, circles to indicate unity, triangles to signify equality, and a cap of liberty.  Trees of liberty were planted by the Italians in the revolution of 1848."

The above tree image is a type of Tree of Liberty.  The image is a digital scan of a 16" x 12" powder-based watercolor painting on primed and stretched canvas.  It is a type of Tree of Liberty for several reasons.  First, color is liberating.  Thus, the leaves with all their vibrant colors are like crowns of liberty extending from and upon the branches.  Further, the flowing, dance-like form of the tree trunk and it's branches declare liberty, the liberty of movement and patterns, of being free from the restrictions of unimaginative thinking & impersonal art.  

On a whole, trees are subjects of liberty for without them we could not do anything, let alone practice or declare liberty.  They are the foundation for most, if not all, of our basic needs.  Without them we will die.  Hence, their very existence brings forth liberty from immediate death.  

Trees are a necessary foundation for life and liberty, yet not only does the tree as a subject express liberty through its animated forms, lively colors and conceptual values, but in this case, I, as the artist, expressed liberty through the very act of making this painting.  Politically speaking, I made this painting in a circumstance in which I was free enough "...to act, believe or express oneself in a manner of one's own choosing." (The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, definition 1. b. of Liberty).  For this I am grateful.  After all, what artist doesn't want to determine and act upon his or her own choosing? Yet, throughout history, countless artists have not been free to choose.  Likewise, neither have countless people all over the globe.  Trees of Liberty, however, remind us of liberating things, such as trees and just laws.

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