Sculptor and performance artist Maren Hassinger’s “Tree of Knowledge” exhibit, which was inspired by a banyan tree in Boca’s Pearl City neighborhood, will come to life this month.
Thanks to a $35,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the installation will be created by Hassinger with help from the public.
“The Boca Raton Museum of Art is honored to be receiving support from the NEA,” Executive Director Irvin Lippman said. “And so pleased that this funding will support a project that takes the concept of ‘art in public places’ to a new level of engagement.”
Hassinger will work with the public this month to roll newspapers during community-based story-telling sessions.
The rolled papers will form 20-foot-long aerial roots of the “Tree of Knowledge” that will hang from the ceiling in the museum’s main gallery. These forms will represent the aerial roots that hang vertically from the branches of the Banyan tree. They descend and take root in the soil to become new trunks.
From July 2 – 31, museum guests will have the opportunity to be part of this exhibition by creating these branch-style elements, featured as part of Hassinger’s large-scale installation. The display will require thousands of these twisted branches.
Participants’ names will be collected and will be incorporated within the exhibition.
The tree that inspired Hassinger was designated as a “historic tree” by Boca Raton’s Beautification Committee in 1992. It was originally planted by school children before the first World War. In the 1930s and 1940s, it was the gathering place for those who lived in the African-American community known as Pearl City.
During this time, the museum will be offering free admission so folks can participate in the project.
The debut of the exhibit is scheduled for Nov. 5.
“These awards, reaching every corner of the United States, are a testament to the artistic richness and diversity in our country,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Organizations such as the Boca Raton Museum of Art are giving people in their community the opportunity to learn, create, and be inspired.”