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San Diego Community News Group

San Diego Community News Group
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Artist Trevor Amery has created a new public art installation titled 'Archive and Witness,' which was recently installed at Arts District Liberty Station.  COURTESY PHOTO

Artist Trevor Amery has created a new public art installation titled ‘Archive and Witness,’ which was recently installed at Arts District Liberty Station. COURTESY PHOTO

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San Diego artist Trevor Amery has created a new public art installation titled “Archive and Witness” in the Arts District Liberty Station. The installation is made out of wood salvaged from San Diego Urban Timbera local reclamation company that gathers falling or standing-dead trees.

“I love working with them because I can use all of this wood that was specific to San Diego,” said Amery. “[And] had the history of San Diego embedded in their tree rings.”

The concept for the piece is the idea that trees are witnesses to and archives of history. Dendrochronology is the study of the relationship between climate and tree growth.

“When you look at tree rings, often we count the years, but you can also maybe think about a dryer winter or wetter winter based on the tree rings and what that looks like,” Amery said. “There’s that but also there’s this archive of San Diego’s history.”

He used redwood and eucalyptus trees that were in Balboa Park and most likely planted by Kate Sessions around the turn of the 18th century. She was an agriculturist who planted most of the trees in Balboa Park. The redwoods, however, were not able to survive in San Diego’s climate.

“A lot of people were upset when [Urban Timber] removed the redwoods from Balboa Park but they were unsafe and standing-dead trees,” Amery said. “So that was all the wood I used for most of the structure.”

The project was inspired by trees that have fallen in the forest, known as nurse logs. The nutrients of those trees give back to the ecosystem, allowing other flora to grow.

“I think that idea of ​​a life cycle and regeneration was important,” he said.

For the past few years, Amery has been focusing on geological processes as metaphors for social dynamics.

“I’ve taken a lot of coursework on that — oceanography, geology, anthropology — just to kind of develop that research and understanding for the artwork,” he said.

Amery, who is originally from the East Coast, learned that his father was stationed at the Naval Training Center (NTC) in San Diego and lived in the barracks in the late 1960s.

“Again, thinking about trees as witnesses, to think one tree ring in there was a year that my dad was here,” he said. “There’s this different sense of time that we can often become disconnected from or not consider that I love. So that influenced me when it came to the sculpture.”

When viewing the art, Amery wants visitors to think about the wood he used and reflect on the history and transformation of San Diego. The former NTC building next to the sculpture has illustrated depictions of what San Diego looked like as a fertile valley before it was developed.

“I’m sure all of the kids that climb on it have no idea that its art, which is fine but also a wonderful entry point, and I love that,” he said. “That was an important aspect for me, is that’s approachable. It can be a conceptual artwork that is hands-on.”

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