Posted by Demetra Pappas, GALVESTON, TX -- As a Native New Yorker I know we tend to think we have seen it all. Last fall, Hurricane Sandy proved just how wrong we all were. The New York Tristate area was devastated. It wasn’t only the flooding though, it seemed like everywhere trees were down, some falling on homes and others across roads and highways making them impassable. One of my friends in New Jersey counted some 17 downed trees on her own property alone. Then not too long ago I found myself in Galveston, Texas, a city devastated by Hurricane Ike in 2008. It's a small beautiful city that appears to be in recovery although like New York, where work has just started on the subway tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan, there are still lingering issues. But what struck me most touring around city was how many of the destroyed trees had taken on a new life.
Indeed, what Galveston did with it fallen trees was amazing, innovative, and hopeful. Instead of hauling them away and grinding them into pulp, many of the 35 destroyed have been turned into sculptures by local artists. I saw the sculptures on my tour of city's East End Historical District -- and I can only hope like more sculptures are being created out of fallen tree in other areas of the city. This not only told me a story of survival but of making something beautiful from remnants of a devastating natural disaster as well.
The carvings, some of which are in this post, range from birds to animals to whimsical maids and angels to a guitar to the Tin Man and Toto from The Wizard of Oz. I write and show these out of solidarity among the hurricane-hit and with admiration to Galveston's spirited recovery and artistry. To see all Galveston’s tree sculptures click on this slideshow.
Demetra M. Pappas, JD, MSc, PhD currently teaches in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at St. Francis College, where she was named the 2012 SGA Faculty Member of the Year. She successfully nominated her students Valia Haskopoulos and Kelsey Papanicolaou for Student Recognition Awards at SFC (where their non-student friend Leah Vanden Bosch received an Honorable Mention Certificate) for their work on a visual sociology midterm option on Hurricane Sandy, which they turned into a publication for Social Shutter in Spring 2013. Dr. Pappas’ book, The Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide Debate (Greenwood Press, 2012) was nominated and short listed for the 2013 British Society of Criminology Book Prize