Michelangelo looked at a massive block of marble and saw the statue David. Edward Leedskalnin looked at South Florida’s coral bedrock and saw a castle. Graffiti artists looked at the Berlin Wall and saw the world’s highest-profile blank canvas. Whether by a classically trained oil painter or a prisoner scratching figures into a concrete wall – whatever the medium, art, to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park, finds a way. In Marrakech, Morroco, a group of artists saw a tree-lined street and thought, while it was a nice touch for a city planner, it wasn’t art. Not yet.
A man by the name of Moulayhafid Taqouraite and his fellow artists decided to carve, paint, and burn a series of widely varying but utterly riveting designs into the tall Eucalyptus trees lining a street in the New Town section of Marrakech, making their mark on the city in a bold but endearing way.
Anything less enchanting than what they created might be considered an unfortunate defacement of public beauty, but their work tends to silence potential critics. Deep etchings, bold contrasts and intricate detail prove that the work was done out of love, not mischief (though you need a bit of the latter for a project like this).
The trees-turned-art are often referred to as dead tree sculptures, which some of them definitely are, but many are living and growing today – perhaps as a tribute to the resiliency of the trees, but far nicer to think of as an affecting metaphor for the symbiotic nature of life and art. Either way, the trees aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and neither, one hopes, are the artists.