Kutztown artist and author Lisa Schnell will have on display her artwork “Family of Trees” at Kutztown Community Library from Jan. 11 until the end of March.

“The photos and other artwork in this exhibit are my attempt to share the sense of awe and wonder I feel when I stand beside these towering, long-lived, beautiful organisms.”

The exhibit displayed on the library walls features photographs of trees, as well as tree-themed paintings.

“I painted one of the pieces with walnut ink I made from trees on our property in Kutztown,” said Schnell. “I also write books, and the show is at a library, so I also included a list of books — for both adults and children — that feature trees.”

The inspiration for the artwork was, of course, the trees themselves.

“Visually, trees and other plants have been one of my favorite subjects ever since I received my first ‘good’ camera as a college graduation gift. I began to take photos of trees — I call them tree portraits — more intentionally several years ago,” said Schnell. “The opportunity to share my photos and other artwork at the library motivated me to look carefully at the many tree photos I have taken. Some of the photos I chose are from right here in Kutztown, while others are from Alaska, Nevada, Mexico, and elsewhere.”

Schnell is also fascinated by recent scientific studies that have explored communication between trees. For example, some kinds of trees release chemicals into the air when they’re attacked by insects. Nearby trees detect this air-born warning and produce unpleasant flavors in their leaves, which discourages the insects from eating them. Other types of trees share nutrients through their root systems, she said.

“They can actually support each other under stressful conditions. This can even happen between two different species,” said Schnell. “I still look at a tree, or a photo of a tree, and find it beautiful. But now I also appreciate it as an important member of a community. It’s just a community that experiences time and space very differently than we humans do!”

Schnell said that she also makes all sorts of things, including books, art, bread, ink, and so on.

“But trees create in an even more basic way. From just sunlight, soil, air, and water, trees create huge structures, homes for animals big and small, food, oxygen, shade, and more. They bridge the gap between earth and sky, between harsh, raw elements and a lush, welcoming world. I am endlessly intrigued by these in-between spaces,” she said. “I hope that after people see the photos and artwork I’ve shared, they’ll look more closely at the trees around them, as well as the many ways art, science, words, and the natural world intersect.”

Schnell would like to say “Thank you” to the Kutztown Community Library for hosting her artwork.

“They are a wonderful resource for our community, in so many ways!”

Also, if anyone has comments, questions, or is interested in purchasing any of the work shown at the exhibit, Schnell encourages people to contact her at lisakschnell@yahoo.com or through her website, lisakschnell.com.

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Lisa Mitchell is an editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers, covering news and events in the Northeast Berks County area.

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