I started painting tree tunnels just before Hurricane Florence hit my town of Wilmington NC in September of 2018. When I returned from the 10-day evacuation, I found the tree canopy in tatters and heaps of trees and debris lining the streets. Months of work continued to remove the fallen trees and even remove ones that still stood after the storm. Many parts of my neighborhood will never look the same, but the live oak tunnels bounced back. They are the most resilient trees in our area. They are a symbol to me of strength and endurance through life’s storms.
Allies of live oaks that were planted a century ago are breathtakingly beautiful. They often form natural shadowy tunnels with a light at the end. This “light at the end of the tunnel” has been a beacon of hope for me during trials. I think that everyone can relate to this metaphor and I try to use it in my tree canopies as a way to convey the messages of strength and hope. I look for tree canopies throughout the Wilmington area, and often paint them when I find them. Many of these images have become so engrained that I paint them from memory now.