FES hosts wood-themed event series

This spring, wood will take center stage at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies as students hope to boost appreciation of the material in unconventional ways.

The environment school’s Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry is hosting a semester-long event entitled “The Art of Wood,” which aims to celebrate the cultural and aesthetic values of New England wood and forest products, Maisah Khan FES ’12, one of the event’s coordinators, said. She added that the purpose of the event, which officially celebrated its kickoff on Friday with a bluegrass concert, is to bring together artisans who use wood to make crafts and furniture and connect them to members of the community who might wish to buy their work. Mary Tyrrell, executive director of the Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, said a large grant allowed the institute to fund a project focusing on the cultural aspects of forests rather than just the scientific and practical applications of the industry.

“I think the students saw a need to go back to the basics and appreciate wood for what it is — something beautiful and something that a lot of beautiful things that we use every day are made out of,” Khan said.

The celebration will bring craftspeople, artisans and forest owners from throughout New England to the environment school. Visitors include University of Maine professor of forest biology Dick Jagels, who hosted a 20-person workshop last Friday on wood anatomy, and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, who will visit on March 28.

Khan said the Art of Wood events have generated a lot of buzz, and added that the next two events — a webinar with Anders Hildeman, the forestry manager for Ikea Sweden, and a visit to the Yale Art Gallery furniture study — are currently at full capacity.

As part of the event, students constructed a tree sculpture from recyclable items collected throughout the environment school, said Alisa May FES ’12, president of the school’s Arts & Media student interest group. The sculpture, along with photography by artists Dan Ladd and Lydia Nettler, is currently on display on the third floor of Kroon Hall, she said, and more artwork will be added by Friday.

The Art of Wood event series is funded by the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation’s $100,000 gift, which is expected to support similar events over the course of four years, said Tyrrell.

Khan said she hopes that her fellow students and the broader community will use the celebration as an opportunity to appreciate the beauty and utility of wood.

“I hope people just take a step back and realize how awesome a medium it is,” she said.

Planning for the celebration, Khan said, began in April and involved the Arts & Media group, the Yale Student Chapter Society of American Foresters, the environment school’s Forestry Club, and STIGMA — the school’s Ethnobotany and Economic Botany student interest group.

The celebration will culminate in a wood-themed arts and crafts festival on March 30.

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