Taking Treehugging to a New Level

Tree hugger project in Poznan, PolandPhoto:
Image: Maile Colbert

Hugging a tree has never been cooler, especially with Agnieszka Gradzik and Wiktor Szostalo leading the way. These artists have been traveling around the world with their tree-loving companions – sculptures made from twigs, branches, vines and sticks – to show us humans just how easy, fun and rewarding it can be to embrace a tree. Passersby loved the idea so much that they joined their new wicker people friends in line to hug a tree at the 2008 UN Conference on Climate Change in Poland.

A man joins the tree hugging line; his dog investigates the wicker dog
Man in line to hug a treePhoto:
Image via Inhabitat

Gradzik and Szostalo have been generating a buzz about tree hugging since they started their Tree Hugger Project in 2005. Their wicker people are as diverse as the human population itself; there are women, men and children of different sizes, families and dogs, bicycles and balloons. What the artists seem to be saying is that people from all walks of life love to hug trees and can benefit from the good feelings that stem from the act.

Tree huggersPhoto:
Image via Inhabitat

The Tree Hugger Project aims to help humans foster a personal and intimate relationship with nature. The quirky and playful wicker people seem to beckon people into thinking about and appreciating the environment in a non-threatening way. From the artists’ website:

“Our Project offers an excellent opportunity to reach out to local communities; demonstrating that standing up for the environment can be done in a fun and non-political way, and that contemporary art can be entertaining and make a difference in how we view our world.”

Red balloon family at Person Square 2008 (Brooklyn, New York)
Red balloon familyPhoto:
Image: myrtyle_avenue_brooklyn

Gradzik and Szostalo encourage people to create their own tree people and hope to continue bringing the Tree Hugger Project into local communities around the world. But you don’t need to wait for them to come to you to act: The next time you’re taking a hike through the forest or even that park down the street, don’t be afraid to hug that tree. It’ll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and you’ll know that people around the world are doing the exact same thing.

Here are some more photos to inspire you:

Woman hugging tree at Burning Man 2007 (Black Rock City, Nevada)
Burning Man 2007Photo:
Image: Filthy Assistant

Girl with a mohawk at Person Square 2008 (Brooklyn, New York)
Girl with mohawkPhoto:
Image: myrtyle_avenue_brooklyn

International Tree Day 2006 (Wilowice, Poland)
International Tree Day ExhibitPhoto:
Image: Harryjoy

Sources: 1, 2