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AIR at 40: Sycamore Hatch and Sycamore Haven, The Work of Bernheim 2020 Artist in Residence, Lee Emma Running

By Bernheim

An exciting new art installation is currently on display in the Sassafras room of Bernheim’s Visitor Center! The work is by 2020 Artist in Residence Lee Running, whose visual art embraces the beauty and complexity of the natural world. Running first arrived at Bernheim in early March and while her initial immersion in the Bernheim landscape was cut short due to the onset of COVID-19, it was long on inspiration. During her time at Bernheim, Running became enchanted with the American Sycamore tree, one that symbolizes strength and protection as well as an indication of waterways in dense woods.

Inspiration of this wide canopied deciduous tree with a beautiful exfoliating bark led to the conception of a work entitled, Sycamore Hatch, a site-specific, transparent, colorful window installation that fills the top three tiers of windows in the Sassafras room of Bernheim’s Visitor Center.

The sycamore is rare in that their dinner plate sized leaves all emerge from a single bud at the end of a branch. Using the sprouts of new sycamore leaves as inspiration, these unique budding structures were magnified and traced under projection. These silhouetted shapes are the visual framework of the installation and tied together with the honeycombed pattern found inside the large seeds that hang from the tree and fall to the ground in spring.  In many ways this miniature interior pattern is a metaphorical ‘map’ for the growth of this beautiful tree that is hundreds of years old. By transforming the scale of complex bits of nature, Running is able to reveal their intricate networks, and identify some universal elements within them.

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