WHEN TREES ARE DYING: Gesche Würfel in conversation with Peter White & Larry Wheeler
THURSDAY JUNE 17th, 7PM
Meeting ID: 825 7447 2511
“Trees have always been a reassuring presence. The reassurance they provide is partly their continuity. Rooted in place, we may recognize still living trees in the oldest photographs. Further, a tree that lives as long as we humans, 8 decades or at most 10, is deemed, among trees, to be a “short-lived” species. More typical tree lifespans in old growth forests exceeds three centuries and the oldest trees reach several millennia.
And yet trees now face unprecedented environmental challenges. Each tree species has an evolved optimum set of environmental conditions in which it does the best and each tree species has an evolved range of tolerances for variation in the environment. The problem is not that trees have never seen change before, it is that the magnitude and rate of change in the present time are pushing them to the limits that defines the simple proposition that their ability to turn sunlight into organic matter exceeds the loss of organic matter through the energetic cost of living.
Join us for a timely conversation between three dynamic folks in conjunction with the Würfel exhibition at Tracey Morgan Gallery.
More info about the Tracey Morgan exhibition:
From the Würfel Statement:
"We now know that our species, through increases to the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, the harvest and fragmentation of forests, and other effects, has produced a rapidly warming world. The effects of that warming are not uniform, but some places are warming faster than others. Artists help us see and interpret the world around us. In When Trees are Dying, Würfel makes climate change effects on trees direct and tangible. In this exhibit she has created a dramatic illustration of climate change by treating trees —through her photographs — with warming, drought, fire, invasive species, increasing salinity and storms.”
Gesche Würfel lives and works in Chapel Hill, NC. She holds an MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA), an MA in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths, University of London (UK), and a diploma in Spatial Planning from the Technical University Dortmund (Germany).
Her work has been exhibited, published, and awarded internationally; exhibition venues include the Tate Modern (UK); the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) Raleigh, NC (USA); the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC (USA); the Goldsmiths Center for Contemporary Art, London (UK); the International Center of Photography, NY (USA); the Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY (USA); the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), MA, (USA); the Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF) (SG).x
Würfel is the author of Basement Sanctuaries (Schilt Publishing 2014). Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, WIRED, Slate, and many other outlets. She is a recipient of grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung, the North Carolina Arts Council, the Puffin Foundation, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) among others. Collecting institutions are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Museum, MA (USA) and the Portland Museum of Art, OR (USA). Würfel is represented by Tracey Morgan Gallery.
Larry Wheeler led the North Carolina Museum of Art as Director and CEO for nearly 25 years, retiring in 2018.Among his many achievements was the expansion of the contemporary art program and collections . Collecting and exhibiting contemporary photography became a major institutional focus.
Wheeler currently is a consultant to institutions seeking to strengthen their arts programming and to collectors as an art advisor. Before coming to NCMA in 1994, he was an assistant director of the Cleveland Museum of Art and Deputy Secretary of the NC Department of Cultural Resources .
Peter White received a PhD in ecology from Dartmouth College (1976). Next came a postdoc at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis and then 8 years in a research job that was split between the University of Tennessee and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Peter and his students have maintained close ties to the park and I am still involved in projects there, including the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory. In 1986, Peter became the 2nd director of UNC’s North Carolina Botanical Garden, a position that was split between the Garden and the Biology Department. Peter served in that capacity for 28 years and then became a full-time professor at UNC for his last 5 years before retirement in 2020.
During his 28 years as director the Garden raised money for and built a LEED Platinum Education Center (first state owned Platinum building). The Garden’s conservation programs were awarded a Program Excellence Award from the American Public Garden Association in 2004. Peter works broadly in ecology, with emphasis on plant ecology and conservation topics, including disturbance ecology (fire, wind, and flood), patterns of biological diversity with emphasis on beta diversity, invasive species, ecosystem restoration, and environmental ethics.
Recognitions include UNC’s Edward Kidder Graham Award, the Pritzlaff Conservation Award, North Carolina’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine, Outstanding Southerner (Southern Living Magazine), and Award of Excellence (National Garden Clubs). Peter was especially thrilled to be named one of the 100 most influential people in the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park that was part of the 2016 celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service. His book, Wildflowers of the Smokies, won First Prize for natural history books about national parks in 1998.
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