A Winter Landscape Cradling Bits of Sparkle
126 live trees, 110 kg of Chinese ink, wooden pathway, glass globes
public artwork for Market Square
Pittsburgh, USA
February 19 - May 3, 2015

From February to April 2015, visitors to Market Square will find a small forest set against the backdrop of Downtown Pittsburgh. This winter landscape is made up of a variety of trees: weeping willows, evergreens, flowering fruit trees, and bamboos. The trees are painted black with Chinese ink, creating a stark landscape that is seemingly in a state of arrested development. The trees will evolve over the course of the exhibition, tracking the change of seasons. Over time, green tender shoots form on the bamboo and willow branches, and flowers bloom on the fruit trees, announcing the arrival of spring. 

A wooden path built among the trees creates an opportunity to walk through, explore, and experience the landscape. The bamboo thicket opens to a clearing in its center, surrounding the visitor with their majesty and encouraging one to gaze upward to the sky. A pathway among the fruit trees guides one through a landscape that is quiet and meditative in the winter, readying itself for the burst of new life in the form of riotous blossoms by early spring. Evergreen trees stand tall and erect, strong against the winter’s cold. The path rises in elevation to reach an overlook in the square. Fog beneath the perch envelops the structure in clouds, mimicking the look of a classical scholar’s studio in the mountains as is often depicted in Chinese landscape painting. 

While walking along the path, a curious visitor sees spherical glass gems with gold-flecked centers interspersed throughout the forest. These small pieces reflect the sunlight during the day and are illuminated by LED at night. They offer a small discovery that may shift one’s attention to an internal space, encouraging contemplation and promising restoration. 

The winter season may seem dormant, but is an essential part of the cycle to engender life. It allows the earth to quiet down and restore itself in preparation for the birth of spring. It is this maternal nature of earth enabling the cycle of life that is the foundation for this work. A Winter Landscape Cradling Bits of Sparkle allows visitors to form their own narratives of quietude, reflection, solace, nurturing, and ultimate restoration to life along with the shift of the season. Transforming the existing urban center with this landscape creates an unexpected, investigable experience that invites visitors to engage in an outdoor activity during an otherwise long, gray, and cold season. The evolution of the forest that comes—blooming flowers and tender green leaves—drastically changes the look of the work over time, encouraging repeated visits.

© 2019 Jennifer Wen Ma

Jennifer Wen Ma

Littlemeat Productions

New York, NY

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