Professor Susanne Slavick, along with her three sisters elin o’Hara Slavick, Madeleine Slavick, and Sarah Slavick, exhibits in “Family Tree Whakapapa” at the Aratoi Museum of Art and History in Masterson, New Zealand, December 12, 2020 through February 14, 2021.
As curators, painters, photographers and writers, all four sisters have incorporated images of trees in social, political, and environmental conditions — trees that stand as refuge and livelihood, consumed and consuming, under assault and triumphant, as historical record, and as harbinger of things to come. “Family Tree Whakapapa” offers perspectives both unsettling and soothing as nature increasingly reflects salient issues of our times.
Based on experiences in Japan, elin presents photographic works that bear witness to the ongoing aftermath of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the nuclear power disaster in Fukushima.
Madeleine’s photographs decry the marginalisation of trees, they reveal dichotomies and their collapses in our experience of nature in environments both rural and urban.
Sarah’s paintings explore the underground life of trees in an elegiac series that conveys both grief and hope, for what is threatened and for what might survive through possible strategies that trees offer for all species on the planet.
Susanne hand paints trees derived from ‘tree of life’ carpet designs over printed scenes of environmental destruction and depredation. These trees do not lie down like doormats; they rise up and persist, suggesting the possibility of recovery.
A full-colour publication accompanies the exhibition, with an essay by Katherine Guinness and a poem by Rawiri Smith.
The four artists will give a virtual talk on December 11 at 5:00 PM EST.