Arbor Intelligence: An Art Exhibition by Cheryl Richey

This summer, from July through September, local artist Cheryl A. Richey will be showcasing her artwork in the UW Tower’s Mezzanine Gallery. Before committing to her art full-time, Cheryl was a professor in the UW School of Social Work for 30 years from 1973 to 2003. She has since had dozens of solo and group exhibitions of her artwork, and her latest show, Arbor Intelligence, will feature 16 pieces from her abstract “tree spirit” paintings, which explore the subtle power and mystery of trees, especially their secret lives or “souls.”

One of Cheryl's "tree spirit" paintings, Pyrophyte 2 (acrylic, collage, burned canvas)

One of Cheryl’s “tree spirit” paintings, Pyrophyte 2 (acrylic, collage, burned canvas)

With each of these paintings, as well, Cheryl is hoping to pair “tree truths” that capture a range of scientific facts and interpretations about trees and forests. That’s where we come in, because she is partnering with the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences—our graduate students, in particular—to help write these truths!

For students interested in providing a “tree truth,” Cheryl will be giving a talk on Thursday, May 19, from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Forest Club Room. She’ll provide more background and context about her art and the Arbor Intelligence exhibition, and students will have a chance to view a few of her paintings. It’s a cool opportunity to engage with the public through art—about your research, personal experiences or reflections—as anywhere from 500 to 1,500 people pass through the Mezzanine Gallery every day!

About the Exhibition
Arbor Intelligence reflects Cheryl’s deep affinity for trees, and her interest in exploring and understanding their ecological importance. The exhibition will combine her paintings with scientific information about the wonder of trees. Her aim is to offer both aesthetic and scientific reasons to honor and protect trees as part of an ecologically grounded approach to environmental stewardship and advocacy. She believes that bringing scientific truths about trees to the attention of UW Tower visitors via “artful persuasion” will motivate them emotionally and intellectually to preserve and restore area woodlands and urban forests.

Ultimately, Arbor Intelligence aims to stimulate contemplation of both the artistic merits of trees, as well as the universal power of tree symbolism, to advance our understanding of the broad, sweeping interconnectedness between people and the environment. Cheryl hopes that visitors increase their own “intelligence” about trees, as well as learn how “intelligently” trees manage to live, survive and thrive.

Painting © Cheryl A. Richey

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