by Maggie Knox
Who knew so much inspiration could come from observing one square meter of the Tennessee forest?
Lendon Noe’s Inspired by The Forest Unseen installation will be on display at the Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery through January 15. The works serve as a response to The Forest Unseen, the book by Sewanee professor of biology David Haskell. Haskell observed a one-square-meter “mandala” of forest for a year and recorded his responses. His observations do not read purely like those of a scientist, however; his language is detailed and rich, making frequent use of metaphor.
The Forest Unseen inspired Noe to bring Haskell’s writing to life. She spent a year reading and rereading his book, sketching out the images described. Ultimately, she had the idea to create an installation. Noe describes her work as “abstraction punctuated by realism.” Her intention is not to illustrate Haskell’s book, but to participate in conversation with it.
“One of the book’s primary themes is interconnectedness of nature,” said Noe. She hopes to recreate this theme through a variety of layered, mixed-media pieces and assemblages, making viewers feel as if they are in the forest.
Noe describes her work as a form of activism, and she hopes Inspired by The Forest Unseen will remind visitors that we are all a part of nature. “I’m very concerned about the environment, and I hope that the installation will help to make people think,” Noe said.