Gathering branches surrounding a tree, artists Agnieszka Gradzik and Wiktor Szostalo use the organic material to create wicker-people that embrace the tree. That’s right, these figures are literally, tree huggers. Rather than something out of a sixties, however, the sculptures tend to resemble people from a timeless international population. At the recent 2008 UN Conference on Climate Change in Poland, visitors could stand in line with several wicker-people in an exhibit entitled “Lonely Tree, Lonely People” — all waiting for its chance to show some limb-y love to the symbolically lone tree. Though its creators are based in St. Louis, Missouri, the Tree Hugger Project has a population that spans the globe.
Other woven figures have appeared to give some lovin’ in Missouri, England and Austria — all of them relentlessly wrapped around a trunk. At its core, the project is meant to induce a kind of whimsy, hey-look- at-that effect, while reminding us of our connection to nature. It invites participation in the tree-hugger stereotype. That is, to look at trees with big heart-shaped eyes, and thank the planet for their existence. Even if you’re not wearing tie-dye.