TREE SAFARI: A SCULPTURAL JOURNEY
Cookeville independent producer Todd Jarrell's Tree Safari: A Sculptural Journey follows the artistic process of Cookeville artist Brad Sells as he seeks exotic African woods for his world class sculptures.
Across South Africa’s wildlife-rich, panoramic landscape, renowned wood sculptor Brad Sells seeks out botanists and Boer farmers to help locate and identify “environmentally correct” African woods for his finely crafted creations. Along the way Sells becomes aware of the trees’ central role in the practice of muhti , the ancient Zulu healing practice which combines magic with real medicine. Curious to learn more, he seeks out Zulu sangomas and sanusis, traditional shaman healers who speak of the spiritual nature of trees, a concept that resonates well with the artist.
Sells’ sculptures begin in a small shed outside a Johannesburg lumber mill before being shipped to his stateside studio. The colorful wood’s evolution continues in Tennessee as the artist races to deliver a collection of world-class objets d’art in time for the opening of the SOFA — Chicago’s acclaimed Sculptural Objects and Functional Art show — where top critics and collectors appraise Sells’ singular talent and unique African collection. From the bush veldt of South Africa to the bright lights of SOFA, the story follows the artistic process, exploring cultural relationships to trees and revealing Sells’ deepening appreciation of his chosen medium.
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