Make a date to visit The McMichael Gallery


January 28 to April 22, 2012

This winter and spring, the McMichael celebrates the artistic, cultural, and natural aspects of the tree with two breathtaking exhibitions, a variety of programs, and special installations.

The Tree: Form and Substance

Organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

In celebration of the McMichael legacy and our deep-rooted connection to art and nature, The McMichael Tree Project reaffirms our affiliation with our community and the land through the symbolic wholeness of the tree—an emblem that embodies the essence of the McMichael gallery and grounds as a revered cultural landscape.

As part of this project, the McMichael presents the exhibition The Tree: Form and Substance, curated by McMichael Chief Curator Katerina Atanassova, which provides an exciting opportunity for us to connect the gallery’s interior spaces with our newly invigorated outdoor spaces and forested landscape, for the very first time.

The Tree: Form and Substance features a wide selection of works by well-known artists such as Kim Dorland, Viktor Tinkl, Edward Falkenberg, Will Gorlitz, Sorel Etrog, Alex McLeod, Natalka Husar, and others. Recently created photographs, sculptures, paintings, installation, and mixed media works grab our attention and, at the same time, create an open dialogue with works from the McMichael’s permanent collection, where trees that are so familiar to us in paintings by Tom Thomson, Emily Carr, and members of the Group of Seven, give a promise of renewal and beauty. In their purity and grandiose celebration of nature, these particular works symbolize the best in the iconography of the tree in Canadian art.

The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social

Organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery

In conjunction with The Tree: Form and Substance, the gallery is also proud to present The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social, organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery; an exhibition that reveals how the tree is ripe with cultural contradictions. It has been used as a symbol for all of nature and its overwhelming beauty; it is a powerful signifier of Canada’s national identity as well as the individual’s struggle against the wilderness; and currently, it even serves as a reminder of our precarious ecological position.

The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social is an exhibition that considers the tree as a subject in art from the early twentieth century to the present. The diverse representations of the tree are indicative of its enduring power as an evocative symbol of our complex and changing relationships with the natural environment.

The exhibition begins with historical images of the forest that evoke the grandeur and power of the natural world. More recently, artists have come to use the tree for a variety of investigations—as a formal device to consider abstraction and figuration, as well as to question our perceptions of the world around us. A growing sense of alienation from the natural world is also explored by artists who expose our mediated experiences of nature. Still others depict trees as a resource for economic development and the devastating consequences of severe logging practices. Optimistically, some artists in the exhibition present life-affirming projects that revitalize the “dying” tree and engage in both metaphorical and real tree-planting projects.

The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social is organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator/Associate Director, with Assistant Curator, Emmy Lee.