Year created:
Futurefarmers, Tree University, 2013.

Futurefarmers. Tree University. 2013. Norway Spruce trees, public programs. Dimensions variable

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Norway Spruce trees, public programs
Photograph by Liana Mestas
Exhibit Date: 
On View Jun 15, 2013 - Oct 06, 2013

Futurefarmers initially installed Tree University as part of the outdoor exhibition Work Out. A Norway Spruce in the Sculpture Park, which had fallen in Hurricane Sandy, became the central medium to create a space of learning and engagement. With classes such as pencil making, forest education, and night sky gazing, the curriculum and materials used for Tree University were literally based in and from the tree.

Futurefarmers’ interest in topics such as the hand crafted object, consumption, and sustainability, coinciding with deCordova’s close proximity to Walden Pond, allowed for Tree University to naturally became an homage to Henry David Thoreau. Inspired by Thoreau’s quote, “I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society,” Futurefarmers separated the tree into three portions to represent Thoreau’s three chairs. Solitude, the top of the tree, was submerged to symbolically embody solitary life cycles such as life and death. The middle portion of the tree, Friendship, had seats crafted from its wood, while the base of the tree, Society, was cut in half and used as a communal work table. The objects created from Tree University included printing blocks, a graphite axe and pencils in honor of Thoreau’s pencil making family business, Thoreau and Company, and will be on view in the museum galleries this fall in the group exhibition, Walden.

Founded in 1995, Futurefarmers is a collaborative effort of a diverse group of practicioners and artisans interested in open discussion through art. Individually, the Futurefarmers who created Tree University consist of Amy Franceschini, Michael Swaine, Stijn Schiffeleers, and Audrey Snyder. Futurefarmers have had projects featured at the Hall of Science, New York; Bakehouse Bjørvika, Oslo; Iaspis, Stockholm; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum; Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York; the Venice Architecture Biennial; and the Contemporary, Baltimore. Collectively, Futurefarmers teach in the visual arts graduate programs at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, Mills College in Oakland, California and the joint masters program of art and engineering at Stanford University.