"Bartram's Boxes Remix" Brings Fallen Relics Back To Life

Peak Johnson, for GPA -- The Center for Art in Wood (141 N. 3rd St.) reached out to artists of different nationalities to propose and create works in wood and other materials, inspired by the 13 types of trees which fell at Bartram’s Garden (5400 Lindbergh Blvd.) during a dramatic wind and rain storm that had taken place several years ago. The artists had the option to select from any of the types of wood found on-site for their projects.

"Bartram’s Boxes Remix" celebrates botanist John Bartram’s legacy of discovery, providing a unique opportunity for artists to remix the materials of his garden and in a way, the historical contributions of the man himself.

Bartram, an 18th century Quaker botanist, gained notoriety in Europe and the Americas by shipping rare seeds via “Bartram boxes” across the Atlantic.

All of the wood from the fallen historic trees has been distributed to woodworkers, or used for on-site building projects, according to an article featured on WHYY’s “Newsworks”. Some of that wood has come back to the garden as art objects for auction or as furniture.

“When we put this call out to artists, we had a pretty broad reach globally,” Maggie Bradley, the garden’s director of membership and advancement said. “We had artists from Japan, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and the United States all respond to this call with pieces. Some people worked individually, some worked collaboratively.”

The response was overwhelming with over 100 proposals submitted. A total of 32 works were selected from artists spanning three continents.

“Bartram’s Boxes Remix” continues a challenge series initiated by the Center for Art in Wood in 1987, which has provided emerging and established international artists with a dynamic forum for advancing new work.

“The challenge mission kind of ties into the overall mission of the center,” Bradley said. “We are a nonprofit art gallery, which a lot of people don’t realize. It goes along with our mission of education and preservation of information and promotion of art made from wood. It also showcases artists who work with diverse materials and formats.”

Not all of the objects crafted by the artists are used from wood salvaged from Bartram's Garden, but they all took inspiration from Bartram's life and work.

Throughout the exhibition, the Center for Art in Wood and Bartram’s Garden will host community events, workshops and artist lectures for the public. The show is scheduled to travel to several other locations through 2016.

“I think in general, with the center along with the exhibition, we feel very passionately about not only the art in wood, but working with other nonprofit organizations in the city,” Bradley said. “And this worked out perfectly with Bartram’s Garden.”

"Bartram's Boxes Remix" is on display at the Center for Art in Wood until July 19, with a few additional pieces on display at Bartram's Garden.

Photo courtesy of Bartram's Garden.