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Hurt Drive, Atlanta

Beth Lilly
Hurt Drive, Atlanta
From the series Monster
Pigment print
17 x 22 inches
Courtesy of the artist
© 2010 Beth Lilly. All Rights Reserved

Trees are surely among the most familiar aspects of the landscapes we inhabit, whether occurring naturally or planted strategically to enhance our quality of life. They provide us with shade, filter our air, hold the soil in place, and bring a pastoral quality into our neighborhoods, fulfilling the clause in the American Dream that calls for tree-lined avenues. Even so, we don’t always treat them well, particularly when they get tall enough to compete with another common feature of residential streets: power lines. In her series Monster, the Atlanta-based artist Beth Lilly set out to make portraits of these trees, seeing them as soldiers on the front lines of the conflict between nature and culture.

In this picture, a massive trunk appears to part for the passage of power lines, but has flourished, nontheless. The artist places the split at the center of her picture, but also fills the sky with an animated wealth of branches that attest to the health of the tree.