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Artist remakes discarded Christmas trees into wearable art

Howard Halle

One of the seasonal delights in New York can actually be spotted the month or after Christmas, when the sidewalks become littered with shriveled, shedding Christmas trees parked on the sidewalk. They might be there because the Department of Sanitation has refused to pick them up (this seems to happen a lot with thrown-out mattresses, too), or maybe the former owner couldn’t quite let go of the holidays, leaving the tree to rot in the living room well into March. (In the hopes, perhaps, that Santa—who surely must have simply forgotten to deliver gifts—will finally turn up.) Well, artist Mary Ivy Martin offers a unusual solution to ridding the city of these ghostly eyesores of Christmas past by turning them into wearable sculptures.

Currently, Martin has set up shop at chashama 266, where she’s transformed the space into a studio for a show titled, “Arboreal Anxieties.” There, she builds costumes out of Christmas trees dragged in from the street, suturing them to a armature of chicken wire that allows her to don them and venture outside, where she ritualistically walks each tree back to the place where it had been unceremoniously dumped. Ah, memories.

At the conclusion of the show on February 13, she’ll been installing the trees in the gallery, along with documentation of her ambulatory performances. She calls her work an effort to “re-animate the trees with a new form of life.” Maybe someone could do the same for mattresses.


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