Indira and Karl Johnson

Chicago IL

Chicago Tree Project/Indira and Karl Johnson
Chicago Sculpture International
Written By Chicago Sculpture International

Chicago Sculpture International brings sculpture to the community and promotes a community for sculpture and sculptors.

SOS-Questions Not Answered

SOS: Questions Not Answered was created by husband and wife team Karl and Indira Johnson. It consists of alternating bands of Morse code and overlapping hands layered like sediment around the ash tree. Hands are an important element in the Johnson’s work symbolizing the action of hugging and trying to protect the tree.

Carved into the trunk, the continuous sequence of three dots, three dashes and three dots broadcast an SOS, signal both distress and the need to investigate how to achieve balance in our ever-changing world.

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According to early Eastern philosophy, order and harmony was created when human nature was aligned with nature. In SOS: Questions Not Answered, hands wrap around the tree in between the Morse code bands reach for that harmony.

In this piece, three layers of bark - the outer bark, the phloem or inner bark and the adjacent cambium, have been carved to reveal different textures, color and patterns created by the emerald ash borer. In the video below, watch and listen Indira and Karl Johnson bring their project to life.

“The demise of the ash trees challenges us to think about the shrinking global environment and native ecosystems and our connections to each other and every living thing in the universe” - Indira Johnson.
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