I have long been a fan of Jack Gescheidt‘s stunning TreeSpirit Project. Jack takes the most beautiful and moving photographic images of naked humans with trees as a way of not only highlighting our deep connection to them but also as a form of activism – to promote awareness of how vital it is to protect them; he describes his images as ‘a celebration of our interdependence with nature’. Jack has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to produce a large coffee table hard back of his TreeSpirit images. Here Jack talks about TreeSpirit, how it came into being and the reason for the book:
TreeSpirit is my environmental Fine Art project featuring photographs of humans, nude and vulnerable, in harmony with trees. A photographer for 25 years, I began TreeSpirit in 2005, inspired by one giant live oak tree in Marin County, CA, that moved me to tears at a painful turning point in my life. The people in the ongoing collection of photographs come to the trees from all walks of life; none are paid models.
TreeSpirit began simply with a dramatic turn of events in my own life, including a heart break and subsequent breakdown. This re-awakened my own childhood love for seeking comfort, happiness, and meaning in nature and especially around trees. From this feeling came the first tree photographs with just a few people. People loved the photos and wanted to be in them. And so it grew.
I LEARNED THE PHOTOGRAPHS COULD SAVE TREES & FORESTS by becoming events to draw attention to threatened trees or forests.
This led to TreeSpirit’s mission to raise awareness of the crucial role trees play in all our lives. Whether or not you’re especially drawn to them, trees, globally, are indispensable to the planet’s health. They support life on Earth, creating oxygen, sequestering carbon in our era of human-caused climate change, filter fresh water, cool the planet and are home to 70% of Earth’s land animals. And so much more. They are our precious ecological allies.
Trees are physiological and psychological soothers of our brains and nervous systems. They are inspiration for our souls, and have been for as long as we humans have existed. But humanity, as a collective, too often take trees for granted, and treats them as lifeless objects to be destroyed or exploited for profit.
THE BOOK: Over 120 photographs, made over 12 years, filling over 175 pages, with many 2-page spreads. The goal is a lush, image-driven celebration of the inspiring beauty of trees and forests, with ordinary, extraordinary people who care about them. The book’s emphasis is imagery, to stir the senses and touch the hearts of tree and nature lovers, to remind us all that we used to play in and around trees as children, before we became busy adults.
TreeSpirit HAS AN ENVIRONMENTAL MISSION. TreeSpirit’s fans and participants feel, as I do, that trees are precious, inspiring, and deserve more protection and care. They are undervalued in modern societies yet critically important in our era of anthropogenic climate change. World forests must be preserved — and expanded. We desperately need more trees and forests to keep doing all that they constantly do for us, ecologically and spiritually. It is in their evolutionary design to sustain and nourish us humans and the plant and animal kingdoms.
And finally Jack in his own words…