Neuberger Museum | State University of New York | Purchase, New York

In the 1960’s a new campus of stark modernist buildings and plazas was built in Purchase on the site of an old estate. The installation calls attention to elements that remain of the previous place – buildings, walls, courts, and trees.  Taking the visitor outside the new central complex into contact with the surrounding landscape of the earlier place became the focus of the project.

Behind an original early building sits a very large old copper beach tree at the far side of a clearing.  Seen in the spring the boughs scrape the ground around the tree, while by summer the tree is covered by dense brown-black leaves.  In the center of the clearing I placed an oversized ladder painted with black and white banding which leads to the base of the tree.  Large numbers stand at the side marking out twenty foot intervals.  At a distance this looks like a measuring device for this huge tree. Comparing the ladder’s length to the tree’s height and width it is possible to see its actual size. Or this ladder might be imagined up against the tree as a dream-like means of access.  Copper covers the ladder’s top surface; it enters between the branches to a space where there is a huge mottled trunk and thick branches, creating a place of refuge that could hardly be imagined.  Seen from beneath the canopy the reflective metal surfaced ladder reaches back out to the clearing which seems so exposed when juxtaposed with this protected space.