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Kiki Smith's Nest and Trees 1997

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Kiki Smith's Nest and Trees 1997

Nest and Trees 1997
By Kiki Smith

collaging a painting. jeanne

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: February 3, 2005
Latest Update: February 3, 2005

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Sky Blue, Sky Gray
by jeanne

network of branches
strong, intertwined
sky blue
sky gray

nest anchored
safe, changing
sky blue
sky gray

cradle reborn
at each perspective
sky blue
sky gray

story retold
myth relived
sky blue
sky gray

Discussion Questions

  • Could the tree branches stand as icons for human relationships? What meaning then could Sky Blue, Sky Gray have?

    Consider the possibility of Human and Nature as they are interrelated.

  • What might the anchoring of nest or nests imply?

    Consider safety nets to protect those in need of protection. Consider that there was an active, intelligent (birds have brains - recent scientific work Science section of the NY Times on Tuesday, February 2, 2005.) force creating those nests to protect those young.

  • What meaning could "cradle reborn" have?

    Consider the continuity of life, generation after generation, and the similarities across generations.

  • What story retold? What myth relived?

    Consider Karen Armstrong's discussion of mythos and logos. Mythos bringing us the great stories of creation and of those, if any, with greater knowledge than we have of how the world works and how to control that. Logos bringing us scientific methods for bringing us as much of that knowledge as can be grasped by and fits our secular needs.


    jeanne's first tree and nest after Kiki Smith.
    jeanne's tree painting before she collaged it

    Welcome to use it. Print it. You may want several prints, so you can cut up different parts to reuse in the collage. You might try doing your own tree, maybe in orange, pink, and red? Maybe you like Kiki Smith's black and white with a touch of blue sky. Try a color that you might like to put up in a frame in your home. (Don't forget to share it with the Naked Space, though.) Cut it up. Play with it until you find a way it says something to you. Then, print up what it says to you in a paragraph or a poem.

    Remember that since we are using this art to stimulate discourse on social issues, it's a good idea to provide something in LARGE print that people can browse as they walk through the exhibit. If you have more to say, supplement your work with a handout or brochure. We'll help you make one. But the work should stand on it's own without the brochure, since some of our audience will choose to focus more deeply on other works that meet their needs for discourse. If you work stands on its own in the gallery, they will still get your message asthey move to what they want to focus on.

    As you go through the discussion questions, I hope they will provide different paths of serious thought that might take you down alternative paths you might not have thought of. We want to do that for our gallery visitors, too.

    When you've got a piece of art you like, share it with us at a workshop or a discussion group. Jacques Prevert once told us how to paint the picture of a bird:

    Paint the bird. Paint a cage for the bird to sit in. Paint a tree to for the bird cage to hang on. Then wait. And wait. And sometime, If it is a good painting, The bird will sing. Then paint the cage door open, And let the bird fly.

    Somewhere I have Jacques Prevert's poems. I'll try to find it for you. I just put the above together from memory. I always loved that poem. It's called "Pour faire le portrait d'un oiseau."

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