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Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

As Prospect Park continues to commemorate its 150th anniversary with The Means of a Ready Escape, it will soon be the focus of another celebratory, more creative exhibit: The Witness Tree ProjectThis exhibit, on view at Lefferts Historic House next month, combines nature, art, and the immigrant experience to honor Prospect Park’s anniversary through a unique lens—objects created from a 150-year-old fallen elm tree in the Prospect Park Parade Ground. The exhibit is a product of collaboration between the Prospect Park Alliance and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), with all of the wooden items designed by RISD students.

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Over 150 years ago, the tree stood firm in the Prospect Park Parades Ground. The exhibit was made possible when RE-CO BKLYN, a Brooklyn-based lumber company, cut and dried the elm. Students then used the harvested wood to create objects ranging from kaleidoscopes through which viewers can see the text of President Trump’s proposed travel ban to a model of the turntable used by an immigrant musician.

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

The exhibit’s title comes from the National Park Service’s designated “Witness Trees,” which are long-standing trees that have “witnessed” important events in history. Thus, RISD students not only designed the items, but researched Prospect Park’s significance in American history and visited the site in order to create items that thoroughly reflected their findings and the rich cultural history surrounding the tree. This was completed in a joint RISD furniture studio and history seminar in the spring.

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

“Research provides the maker with a deeper understanding of where ideas come from, and how to utilize them in the design process,”said Daniel Cavicchi from RISD in a press release. “These concepts are at the heart of The Witness Tree Project.”

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Now in its ninth year, The Witness Tree Project has offered students the unique opportunity to reflect on American history to create informed objects that reflect a deep understanding of culture. This year’s exhibit, as mentioned, focuses on social identity and the immigrant experience, which surround prominent issues today.

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

“We are so pleased to be collaborating with RISD during the 150th Anniversary celebration of Prospect Park to look at the fascinating history of not only the Park but Brooklyn at large,” said Maria Carrasco, Vice President of Public Programs at Prospect Park Alliance, in a press release. “The exhibit fits nicely with the array of programming we have presented as part of this milestone celebration, and what better venue than Lefferts Historic House, which itself has witnessed significant moments in Brooklyn’s history.”

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

Photo via Prospect Park Alliance

The history of Prospect Park, first designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, correlates with Brooklyn’s own vibrant history. The site of the exhibit, Lefferts Historic House, pays tribute to this. The house was built by a Dutch family in the 18th-century farming village of Flatbush, and relocated to Prospect Park in 1918.

The Lefferts Historic House. Photo by Elizabeth Keegin Colley via Prospect Park Alliance

So, if you’re looking for a way to keep celebrating Prospect Park’s 150th anniversary, or if you just want to see exquisite objects made from an old fallen tree (super cool in itself), The Witness Tree Project is a must-visit.

The Witness Tree Project will be on view at the Lefferts Historic House from September 9th-30th, 2017, on Thursdays through Sundays from 12-5 pm, with a closing reception on September 30 from 3-5 pm. 

Next, read about Prospect Park’s other anniversary exhibit, The Means of a Ready Escape, and The Top 12 Secrets of Prospect Park.

 Brooklyn, Calvert Vaux, Frederick Law Olmsted, Prospect Park

One Response
  1. Bradley Laing Reply

    Why does “fantastic chinatown” have line on it? It is an electrical cord and the thing lights up at night?

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