Originally appearing as drawings, the intricately stamped ink trees in Field Guide entice us to look closely at each vein, leaf point and trunk marking. These drawings were realized after John Salvest’s exploration of creating one full tree using one small handmade, handheld tool.
Salvest’s love for wordplay stands out in Tree of Trees, a cylindrical sculpture made from a vintage stamp holder and retired wooden bank stamps. Stands like this are often called “trees” due to their vertical, layered nature. Exploiting that linguistic fact, Salvest replaced the bank stamps with a collection of homemade leaf stamps. These stamps showcase 26 different species of trees, resulting in a tree of trees.
“When I first started this it was going pretty well, I felt good about the black on white, at least for now. To me it sort of seemed like a guide book. These are all made from one tool, and I like the simplicity of that. One simple tool created all of these trees and endless possibility, much like a guide book.”
The name of each tree stamped in the corner allows this exhibition to feel like an oversized guide book. While walking through the gallery, we turn pages in a field guide.
Salvest is a Professor of Art at Arkansas State University. He received his B.A. in English from Duke University and an M.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Iowa. In addition to being reviewed and featured in numerous publications, such as Art in America, The New York Times, Art Papers and The New York Examiner, Salvest is the recipient of various awards and grants including National Endowments for the Arts Fellowships and Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants. He has completed public art projects for the Cannon Center for Performing Arts in Memphis, Grand Arts in Kansas City and the Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta International Airport.