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Michael Neff

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Suspended Forest: One Man's Christmas Trash is Another Man's Treasure

Artist Michael Neff's Suspended Forest takes discarded Christmas trees and recycles them into a beautiful public art installation.



Millions of fir trees are purchased every year in America to celebrate Christmas. The Christmas tree is something many people love, often wrapped up in family tradition and nostalgia. Growing up in Seattle, a place with a wealth of fir trees, I didn’t think much about our Christmas tree—where it came from or where it went. We picked it out in a parking lot and drove it home, and I was instructed to drag it to the curb on the day the Boys Scouts came around to take everyone’s trees away to wherever they went.

When I moved to New York City the population density made me acutely aware of just how many trees we consume every year. In the weeks after Christmas, sidewalks in Manhattan are an obstacle course of discarded trees. Residential high rises in particular often sport huge piles, discarded en mass when a pick up date is approaching.

Suspended Forest is my reaction to this post-Christmas phenomenon. A core tenet of my art practice is pointing out things that we may not be conscious of in our daily lives. Sometimes people mistakenly read this as a critique of our culture, but I am more interested in engaging with a viewer, making them aware of what they are looking at, and hopefully spurring them to think about it.

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