Donald & Era Farnsworth
Portrait of the Artists, /2004
holiday card portraits

Donald and Era Farnsworth: collaborations

Since 1998, Donald and Era Farnsworth have collaborated together on an ongoing printmaking endeavor that posits individual trees, with their exact locations and space and time, for the viewer’s aesthetic and philosophical contemplation. The collaboration was sparked initially by a commission the Farnsworths’ received in 1999 to create a mixed media work on paper relating to trees, a subject which had long been of interest to them. The result has been a sustained and fruitful collaboration that has produced images that reflect the unique sensibilities and abilities of their two makers. The Farnsworths’ tree pieces are delicate images, which subtly transfer the presence and power of the trees they document to works on paper that resound with quiet resonance. Era Farnsworth describes the work she and her husband, Don, in the following manner, The recognition of a unique presence in specific natural objects, like trees, plays a great role in the work that I am currently doing in collaboration with Don. I see this work as being about balance on many different levels: between east and west, old and new, male and female. Our work incorporates ancient Japanese papers and new, but handmade Western ones. We employ traditional as well as new, high-tech methods of creating imagery, making use of digital technology as well as intaglio printing, hand papermaking and extensive water coloring. In our tree pieces we present the image of a single tree, along with the tree’s precise latitudinal and longitudinal location, altitude and the date and time at which we discovered and documented the tree’s image. This information, visual and textual, creates a portrait of a specific tree, which can be charted or pinpointed in space and time. By presenting these trees in this manner, we attempt to instill in the viewer something of the sacred nature of trees and the natural environment, how beauty and a singular presence are incorporated into these unique, natural forms.