Joseph Beuys and his 7000 Oaks
Walker Art Center's Tree-Planting Project
Part I: Cass Lake
Part II: St. Paul Central High School
Part III: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

 

 

Walker Art Center's Tree-Planting Project

Beuys envisioned projects occurring throughout the world inspired by his 7000 Oaks. In conjunction with the Walker Art Center's exhibition of Beuys' multiples from the permanent collection, the Walker has undertaken a tree-planting project in the spirit of 7000 Oaks.

The Walker's three-part tree-planting project is being coordinated by independent curator Todd Bockley with support from the Visual Arts Department, as well as the Education Department's Teen Programs and Community Programs.



 
Part I: Cass Lake

 


In Cass Lake, a reservation town in Northern Minnesota, 1,031 seedlings were planted representing approximately one tree per resident. Although the planting itself took place over a one-week period in late May 1997, Bockley made frequent trips north over a five-month period prior to the actual planting to assure that the project "grew" in a way that was determined by the needs and personality of the community itself.


Through direct one-on-one interaction with a number of residents of all ages, presentations to community groups, the distribution of fliers, and two front-page articles in the local newspaper, the word spread as quickly as did enthusiasm for participation in this activity. In this way, residents themselves determined where the trees were sited -- on their own property as well as on public land -- and were actively involved in the planting as well.


One of the many events that can be pointed to as a sign of the success of this portion of the project is the tree-planting ceremony at the Cass Lake Elementary School that was integrated into the community-organized, week long "Community Wellness Gathering." At this same elementary school, a small tree farm was established with a number of the seedlings outside the science teacher's classroom. Students for years to come will participate in caring for these trees.


There are plans for continued contact with the residents of Cass Lake as well: The Bugonaygeshik School has become an Explore Member site. A catalogue from the exhibition Joseph Beuys Multiples was donated to the Tribal College's library upon publication. A bus was offered for residents to come to Minneapolis for October's Free First Saturday (see Part III below) and thus see the exhibition as well. A bus was also offered for participants to join the Information Office discussion scheduled for October 30 to discuss "Tree-Planting as Social Sculpture." If funds become available, David Levi Strauss, one of the speakers scheduled in conjunction with the exhibition, will travel north to present his lecture and discuss Beuys' relationship to America, including Native American traditions, with members of the community.

 
top

 

 

 
Part II: St. Paul Central High School


 
Bockley and other members of the staff worked with teacher Maxine Smith and her students throughout September to discuss Beuys' ideas, coordinate the planting of trees in the neighborhood, and plan for the continued care of those trees. The class is an interdisciplinary one in which photography is being used to teach math and reading skills.

 
top

 

 

 
Part III: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden


 
For this, the third and final part of the Walker's tree-planting project, a single symbolic tree with basalt stele was planted in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Members of the Walker's Teen Arts Council were involved in the planning and actualization of the planting with Bockley and Walker staff.

The planting itself will took place on October 4 as part of Walker's Free First Saturday program. As stated above, residents from Cass Lake were encouraged to attend. Students from St. Paul Central High School also received a special invitation to this event. In addition, all attendees at Free First Saturday were invited as this event had the potential to become an extended community gathering.

 
top