‘Hank Waddell: Tree Bones’
The brightly painted dead or decaying limbs in Hank Waddell's exhibit 'Tree Bones 'draws viewers' attention to the effect people have on the health of the environment
Reviewed by Benné Rockett, Fri., April 28, 2006
Hank Waddell: Tree Bones
Artillery Gallery, through April 30
Sculptor Hank Waddell views environmental health as a two-way street: The environment affects the health of people, and people are affecting the health of the environment. Waddell describes his sculptures as "that place and time turned into a concrete acknowledgment of the unpredictable ramifications of our arrogance, our ego, and our need for more."
The works in Tree Bones consist primarily of dead or decaying large tree limbs, some left as they were found, some reduced and reassembled, and others coated with automotive urethanes. The use of metal flakes, pearls, and candies tease out Waddell's concerns and makes the death of the trees powerful and dignified. His attack is not necessarily limited to the automotive industry, though there is plenty to be concerned about. He is equally concerned with the "throwaway" mentality of consumers. Environmental legislation encourages industry to consider sustainable development beyond short-term economic gains, but a clear message is emerging: Growing consumption levels are overtaking environmental gains.
The integration of best practices into mainstream business decision-making doesn't seem to affect a consumer mentality that views shiny things as better. Waddell notes that his works did not gain much recognition until he began using the urethanes. But if brightly painted dead wood compels viewers to reconsider that all that glitters is not gold, Waddell just may be playing a crucial role in spurring social innovations.