The summer of 2019 I had the distinct pleasure of being an Artist in Residence at Wildlands in Healdsburg, California. While there, I was very inspired by the serenity of the place deep in the Northern California Oak forests. As a ritualistic practice, I hiked daily to spend time in this place and collect oak galls I found in the process. Oak galls or oak apples grow on certain valley oaks as a result of a parasitic wasp laying it’s larva in the oak twigs. The wasp larva secrete a hormone so similar to the oaks own, the oak will grow a gall as a way to both excrete the parasite and protect the larva.
This commensalistic relationship really spoke to me, the gall is both a result of an irritant but also gives the wasp an offering of food and shelter. This installation contemplates this complex relationship which for me not only speaks to the interdependent living systems we are all a part of, but it also symbolizes a poetic way to embrace the difficulties of life.
At the Wildlands Open House visitors were invited to circumambulate the great Oak as a type of walking meditation. A time lapse of this event can be seen below.