Eight Waves: A Tree Mandala for Christopher Billings Smith
Installed at University of Iowa Emergency Room
During the construction of the University of Iowa Emergency and Trauma Center,
a large, 100+ year old Oak tree was removed. This sculpture was commissioned by Project Art to use lumber from this fallen Oak tree. The form of this sculpture gives reference to a cross section of a tree and a mandala. It is my intention to honor this tree's life while giving visitors in the emergency room something beautiful to contemplate.
The flow of time is referenced in the eight circular waves on the sculpture, in the radial chisel work of its texture, in the trees growth rings, and in the title of the work. Numerous marine researchers and surfers have taken note of the eighth wave phenomenon, in which roughly every eighth wave is significantly larger and more powerful than the seven preceding. Meditating on the eighth wave phenomenon serves me when experiencing events and emotions. Emotions and events are here now, but pass through us; although these experiences change our lives and who we are, time will change their force, presence, and how they occupy our life.
I dedicate this sculpture to Christopher Billings Smith. Seven years ago I had a traumatic table saw accident where I lost four fingers; Christopher sent me a meaningful letter after he heard of my accident. Christopher Billings Smith had a similar accident to mine and his letter to me was, at the time, a letter from a stranger. I would be grateful if this sculpture gives people in the emergency room the hope and courage Christopher's letter gave to me at a difficult point in my life.