Sculpture in the White Mountains
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
I was midway through building this thing, and a little camper van with New York plates pulls up. Down goes his window to reveal perhaps the greatest mustache I've ever seen. I asked, "So, what do think?" The old fellow smiles and says, "I think I've found SoHo north!"
In 2018 I was awarded Artist in Residence for the White Mountain National Forest. Furthermore, it was their 100th Anniversary. This was a big deal for me because I grew up in the Whites. It was an opportunity to give back to the community.
Before we get into the design process, it's important to note why the National Forest was founded. Unregulated forestry caused wildfires and flooding, which had serious ecological and economic consequences. For a century, they have been practicing conservation, nursing the land back to health, and living up to their motto: "do the greatest good for the greatest number of people".
I made these three proposals to the Forest Service. The concept was to upcycle an old tree that had fallen at Dolly Copp Campground, where the piece would be built. The tree was a massive white pine, about 100 years old, according to the forest rangers. Conceptually, it would represent both the growth of the forest and their organization. We agreed on the spiral form because it is based off the golden ratio, fitting the theme of growth, and eludes to the passage of time and memory.
This was my first model. Exposed to the elements, short slabs cut from the tree would have inevitably split; a major safety concern. And aesthetically, a steel armature was far too obtrusive for my liking. I took a photo of the model and started sketching, then decided no steel would be visible in the end.
Instead of short slabs, the length of each log would be incrementally elongating along a spiral array. Axial wood grain would maintain its natural strength, and the arching structure would help support the overall weight of itself, snow-loads, and people interacting with it. Inside the logs, a pair of heavy tubes would be hidden from sight.
With my prints in hand and proof of concept complete, it was time to start construction. Watch the video below for lots of chainsaws and arc welding!
Quinn Morrissette is an American artisan based in Portsmouth, NH, USA, specializing in sculpture, bespoke furniture, and architectural installations. To view his work visit quinnmorrissette.com