Cape Cod woodlands
Cape Cod moors and grasslands
Cape Cod freshwater
Cape Cod dunes
Cape Cod beaches
Cape Cod saltwater

Branches of a Wolf Tree

A wolf tree is a New England term for a tree that is much older than those around it, often by 100 to 200 years. Its characteristically low, wide-spreading branches are the result of being left to grow after the surrounding forest was cut and cleared, usually during the colonial era. These solitary trees were left standing for shade, to mark boundaries or to provide acorns and nuts for field animals.

Wolf trees are an important support to their local ecology by providing habitats for a broad range of species. Their presence also stands as witness to the changes of land use over time, from precolonial to the present.

The branches of the venerable wolf tree serve as a metaphor for the diverse ecosystems of Cape Cod. These ‘branches’ (beaches, dunes, salt and fresh water, moors, grasslands, and woodlands) are closely linked and ecologically distinct.

With my camera I seek out the details of these environments, mindful of our interconnectedness with all plants, animals and creatures of the sea and air. As I chronicle the seasons here, I find myself producing images of reverence for this fragile landscape.

The artworks are cyanotypes that I am hand-printing in two sizes. The small devotional images are ‘votives’ (9 x 12”/22 x 30cm). The large ones (23 x 29”/58 x 74cm) are made up of 12 individually printed panels joined together with archival tape. These are ‘polyptychs’, artwork that is made up of many panels and traditionally used as altarpieces.

This is an ongoing project. I am researching the ecosystems unique to Cape Cod and would like to know the names of all the plants and trees I photograph. I gratefully welcome any help you can offer with identification. Artwork can be purchased directly through me or at The Schoolhouse Gallery, Provincetown.

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