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Middle Fork – John Grade’s Tree Sculpture at MadArt


Unveiled at the end of last month at the MadArt Space in Seattle, Middle Fork is the latest sculptural work by artist John Grade who worked with hundreds of thousands of individual wood pieces to realize an intricate suspended structure.

The process of making this sculpture began 85 feet above the forest floor in a 140-year-old Western Hemlock growing in North Bend, WA. With the help of arborists, John and his team of assistants scaled the living tree to take plaster casts of the trunk and limbs. The molds were then transported back to MadArt’s large-scale studio in the bustling neighborhood of South Lake Union.

Over a period of one year and with the help of hundreds of volunteers, an intricate structure was pieced together from salvaged old-growth cedar blocks. The blocks, no thicker than the annual growth ring of a tree, were placed around the form, bonded with waterproof glue, sanded, and the interior plaster casts removed. The final result reveals a hollow, light-filled armature that holds the exact shape of the tree, suspended horizontally at eye level, with limbs radiating outward towards the floor, walls, and ceiling. The bank of floor-to-ceiling windows at MadArt invite passers-by to view and explore a familiar organic form from new perspectives.

Middle Fork will be on display at MadArt Space until April 25th before it leaves for exhibit in London and Washington, DC.

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all images and video courtesy of JOHN GRADE + MADART SPACE