Allison Green

Arboreal Portraits

Haunting, foreboding, yet warmly embracing, the forest has captured my imagination since childhood. I grew up spending summer days knee deep in thicket, exploring the woods behind my house, and developing a love and fascination for the diverse canopy of trees—the silent dignity of the massive tree trunks and the wildly exuberant mixing of leaves, twigs and branches. 

For the past ten years, I have combined memories of the mystical forest of my childhood with contemporary studies of trees into large-scale oil paintings that explore the primordial fairy tale forest as a metaphor for the loss of innocence and the desire to return to a childlike state.  This deep connection between trees and the human psyche has led me to my most recent series, Arboreal Portraits.   

As life experience etches itself on the human body, the indentations, knots and rings of a tree represent how it too has weathered time. Using this metaphor, I created Arboreal Portraits, a series of paintings of individual trees—birch, conifer and palm to name a few—posed against atypical jewel-toned backgrounds that emphasize the uniqueness of each tree.  When viewed together, the trees appear as a family, united by their compositional structure, yet distinctively different from one another.  

Playing upon the universal symbol of the family tree, the paintings in Arboreal Portraits are titled after women in my family. For example, Henrietta is named after my grandmother, originally from Spain, who grew up in Casablanca. Ultimately, she moved to Florida, where she found comfort in palm trees—they reminded her of “home.”  It is this very intimate connection to trees—they represent both where we come from and who we are—that I seek to illuminate in this work. In Arboreal Portraits, I express the powerful and resilient relationship between individuals and the universe through the venerable symbol of the tree.