Hemlock 82, 2008The word 'woodcut' typically refers creating images by chiseling our gouging a relief into a wood surface and then printing the results. Bryan Nash Gill's work takes the word in a different direction; he makes relief prints from cross-sections of trees. Rather than using the wood as a medium for a carved image, he tries to capture the tree itself. Good portraiture is limited in its frame but expansive in its impact. Here, Gill has found a wonderful form of portraiture for trees, where the simple patterns of rings and texture are captured, while other traditional boreal imagery like the vertical shapes and warm hues are only implied. Gill's work starkly captures age, growth patterns, rot and other abnormalities that tell a tree's stories. He doesn't simply work with whole crosscut trees, but dimensional lumber, plywood, telephone poles... any wood he can find that tells a story or creates an interesting image. 

This book from Princeton Architectural Press presents a fantastic retrospective of Gill's woodcut work. This represents only a segment of the work that Gill does - his sculpture and installation work, for example, is not show here. While the images alone are nice, I really enjoyed the text as well, with little blurbs telling what makes a specimen unique, where he found it, or what challenges the piece provided the artist. As well, Gill also extensively documents his creative process. My only quibble is that I would have liked to see more of his studio... Of course at UPPERCASE were suckers for seeing an artist's studio, and here there's only one grainy photo of what looks to be an absolutely stunning workspace.