The Flourishing Beauty of Ariel Schlesinger’s Interconnected Aluminum Trees

Art Installation: An aluminum tree holds another unrooted aluminum tree aloft
Untitled by Ariel Schlesinger.

Travel is an opportunity to wander. Often, when I feel safe to do so, I allow myself to become comfortably lost, allowing my feet to lead me down various streets to see what I’ll discover.

When I visited Frankfurt, Germany, my wandering led me along the Main River and past the Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, where I stopped abruptly — as I was suddenly captivated by the large sculpture in the courtyard.

Growing up out of the stone ground, a large cast aluminum tree was tangled in the branches of second tree — like two hands grasping each other—while the second tree hangs suspended upside down in the air. The grey metal of the trees, surrounded by white walls is starkly devoid of color, while the roots reach upward toward the sky, untethered and seeking some ground in which to root itself.

It’s an beautiful, dynamic, and evocative image — and I immediately wanted to learn more about the artist, their work, and how the piece was made.

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Falling in Love with Shadow and Light

Sky Cathedral by Louise Nevelson — found wood sculpture at the San José Museum of Art.
Sky Cathedral by Louise Nevelson  found wood sculpture at the San Jose Museum of Art.

The last time I visited a museum prior to the pandemic was at the San Jose Museum of Art, where a friend had put together an event featuring mixture of poetry and music. During a break between the sets of performances, I wandered the exhibits, checking out what the museum had on display.

When I wander through a museum, I observe it from my own subjective point of view, not much caring whether the work is considered important or interesting from a cultural or historical perspective. I look for work that speaks to me, that hooks something deep within my chest and tugs.

That night, I found myself standing before Louise Nevelson’s Sky Cathedral, a found wood sculpture comprised of architectural elements, crates, and other pieces, assembled into geometric chambers and painted entirely black. It captivated me immediately.

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