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Keith Lemley

January 2022

Keith Lemley

Keith Lemley, a sculptor from Ravenna, OH, transforms fallen ash trees affected by the Emerald Ash Borer into sculptures. The haunting beauty of these creations serves as a poignant reminder of the profound impact of the borer on ash tree populations across the US. Lemley's upcoming exhibition, featuring the culmination of his residency work, is scheduled to grace the AST gallery from February 23 to April 2, 2022.

Keith Lemley, in describing his installation, presents a grove of objects crafted with his chainsaw from dead ash trees he felled around his studio along the Cuyahoga River watershed. The devastation caused by the emerald ash borer, particularly on ash tree populations across the US, has personally compelled Lemley to take down numerous dead ash trees affected by the borer's larvae. These objects serve as a visual representation of the destruction, commemorating something that is now gone and forever altered, much like the irrevocable changes brought about by the pandemic.

The shapes of the objects draw inspiration from the architecture and forms of the trees themselves. Departing from some of his previous work, Lemley employs a softer free-form geometry to visualize systems of layering, accumulation, connection, and transference. In certain areas, he intentionally leaves visible the distinctive trails of the borer. The addition of hand-bent white neon tubes accentuates the shapes and surfaces of the wood, creating an ethereal atmosphere. The play of light, existing as both particle and wave, becomes both an extension of the object and an experiential phenomenon for the viewer and their senses. The neon and wooden objects come together to form a forest installation that serves as a monument to loss.

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