Curious fact: Trees can survive even when they are completely hollowed out. They can be cut to the ground and grow back. Charles Darwin surmised that the roots were the center of plant intelligence, and recent research shows that they communicate information in forest ecosystems.

Riotous Roots

I discovered the sectional remains of a tree beside a city street. Something told me this tree had had an eventful life and a story to tell. Deeply channeled inside and out, not much was left of it before it was cut down, but the remaining trunk was very dense and strong, so perhaps the roots had still been pumping moisture up through the wood fibers. I feel the tree was a rugged warrior persona doing battle with the sidewalk next to it, its roots refusing to give up on the quest for moisture and underground intelligence when it was cut down. I wanted to celebrate that nature.

In Riotous Roots, the tree gets legs made of rebar and reinforced cement. Its copper tubing “roots” grow upward rather than down. The rebar legs allow the work to sway, the copper elements dance in the air above. This newly animated tree looks like it is free to run around and cause trouble.


The title comes from a poem by Rumi:


And don’t think the garden

loses its ecstasy in winter.

It’s quiet, but

the roots are down there



85 x 51 x 26

Tree cutting; copper tubing assembled with stainless steel screws and epoxy; rebar, Portland cement mixes with metal foil and wire reinforcement; epoxy wood; acrylic paint and clear epoxy coating

© 2018 Phillip Stern