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Artwork copyright Anne Byerrum. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Trees Among Us

The giant trees of the Northwest have always been an important part of the Northwest story: Indigenous cultures and stories, history, our native architecture, the local economy, our export economy, the mountains and the rainforests, the wildfires, the climate crisis. They are part of an important economic force (the logging industry) but they are also a force of nature. They are romanticized in all their forms but they are also living proof of the magic of botany and other sciences (if you want to get technical and nerdy: dendrology, the study of trees, or xylology, the study of wooded plants).

Coast Salish peoples have a creation story about the origins of Cedar. According to the story, there once lived a good man who always gave away his belongings and food to others. The Creator recognized the man’s kindness, and declared that once the man dies, a Red Cedar tree will grow where he is buried, and the tree will continue to help the people (from the book "Cedar" by Hilary Stewart, 1984).

The artists in Washington's State Art Collection have made art about all of the above subjects and more.