Leafy Awakenings

By on July 25, 2018

Former Artlab artist-in-residence will create a forest in ‘the Fishbowl’

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Trevor Amery was headed to Finland for a two-month art residency when security at an international airport confiscated his oil paints. He had carefully wrapped and secured his equipment, but that wasn’t enough for security agents. They told him someone recently checked cans of paint that exploded on an aircraft. Despite Amery’s insistence that his paint tubes would not explode, they wouldn’t let him fly them the rest of the way.

Amery had two months devoted to making art in a rural community and no paint. Since he couldn’t immediately start work, he borrowed a bike and explored the countryside where he fell in love with “insanely ornate” piles of firewood people had outside their homes. Unable to paint, he began to experiment with wood.

That 2011 residency changed everything.

The artist realized he could be out in the world, not holed up in a studio, making art that engaged nature and transformed spaces. His latest installation, “Consciousness Among the Trees,” follows in that vein. Using firewood and an eclectic mix of other objects—including a canoe—he transforms the courtyard space at the Center for the Arts.

Amery will use firewood collected in this area as a building block for sculptures that will also incorporate found objects and other items, such as unfired clay pots, in a show that he calls an exploration of architecture and materials. It is partially inspired by science, like new research exploring how trees can communicate with each other, he said.

The installation is a collaboration between the Center for the Arts and Teton Artlab. Each summer, the two organizations partner to host one of Artlab’s former international artists-in- residence for an exhibition, said Carrie Richer, creative initiatives director at the Center for the Arts.

A key part of Artlab’s mission is to bring renowned artists from around the world to Jackson, but while in residency the artists are usually focused on their process and creating work in the studio, Richer said. This annual show is a chance to share their finished work with the community.

Amery has “really elegant aesthetics in his work,” Richer said. He uses rough and natural materials and a more organic process, but one thing that distinguishes him is the artist’s “polished final result.”

Amery’s work is place-based and he is known for transforming spaces, Richer said. While he has a concept for the installation, he’ll also spend a few weeks playing with wood and materials to see what happens.

The outdoors are directly linked to his work, which connects to the Jackson lifestyle, Richer said.

Amery also explores how things deteriorate and change in weather and the environment. Richer said the courtyard is semi-protected, but also offers some exposure to the elements and makes it a perfect place to watch organic materials change over time.

Amery recently began his installation with the aid of volunteers who helped collect firewood. People are welcome to stop by the courtyard before the installation opens and visit with Amery. Coined “the Fishbowl,” the space engenders artist and community engagement because artists are visible from a variety of angles while they work, Richer said.

Amery grew up in upstate New York in the Hudson Valley. He attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore where he studied painting. The classic techniques he learned in glazing and layering are evident in his sculpture work.

“I love process,” he said. “I never cared if something looked like photo realism. I like to deconstruct stuff.”

The artist went to graduate school in San Diego, which is now his home base.  

Consciousness Among the Trees explores how he can transform firewood. It’s about giving something we often see stacked near a house a new form and purpose—at least for a while.

The installation comes down October 3, just in time for Amery to donate the firewood used in the exhibit to Teton Artlab and area artists.


Trevor Amery hosts an artist talk noon to 1 p.m. Thursday. An opening reception for Consciousness Among the Trees is 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday in the courtyard at the Center for the Arts.

About Kelsey Dayton

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