Of the metaphors common throughout the world, the tree is among the most enduring. How appropriate, then, to organize an international touring exhibition based on representations of the tree as a model for how one views life, and how that life is embodied. Included in Tree of Life are 58 artists and craftspeople from 20 countries across Central, South, East and Southeast Asia.
As with recent exhibitions rooted in the natural world, Tree of Life, like the Museum of Anthropology’s Amazonia: The Rights of Nature (through January 28, 2018), is motivated not only by aesthetics but also by more pressing issues. For co-curator Manjari Nirula, Tree of Life aims “to create greater awareness about the importance of ecology and its connection to our lives, to stimulate creativity and highlight cultural sustainability. The roots of the tree are our beliefs, the trunk is our mind and body, and the branches are our wisdom.”
Most of the works in Tree of Life are wall works. Highlights include the hand-cut paper landscapes of China’s Yu Yuan, the hand-painted batiks of Taiwan’s Tzu Lo Cho and the devotional miniature paintings of India’s Jai Prakash, who has been declared by his country to be a “living national treasure.” Michael Turner