Elizabeth Castaldo, “Love Grows in the Forest”

Elizabeth Castaldo
Peekskil, New York

Love Grows in the Forest
Letterpress, photopolymer plates, inkjet, handcut paper, Zerkall Book Wove Paper, Nepalese Lokta Paper, Canson Mi- Tientes Paper, Davie Board, Cotlin Book Cloth.
OPEN: extends to 55 inches CLOSED: 5 x 10 inches

Artist Statement

I work in mixed media, combining collage, drawing, and printmaking to create works on pa- per and artists books that explore connections of people with the natural world. I am inspired by the structural patterns inherent in plant and animal life that reveal the connection between humans and the natural universe. For the last few years I’ve been making artists books that reflect on my personal relationship with nature. Nature has always been a space of sanctuary to me but I don’t think I real- ized it for a long time and I’ve worked with this idea in artists’ books such as “Love Grows in the Forest”, which I made in 2018. I never fully appreciated trees and the forests until I moved to the city. I love the city and still do, its probably where I feel most at home, but living there really made me long to be in the woods surrounded by trees and their magical air. The book “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben was deeply influentail to me in making “Love Grows in the Forest”. I was really moved by his description of the ways trees communicate and live in an almost society like way. He discusses the lives of trees almost as if they are human.

Love Grows in the forest is about the magic one might feel in the forest, about the life cycle of trees and how they speak to one another. When I was a kid the forest was always special to me. I loved being in the woods but more than that I loved the idea of the woods, which to me seemed to represent mystery and magic and in a lot of ways still does. It was a place of fairytales, both gentle and scary, always magical. There was a very small wooded area near our house and my siblings and I liked to “hike” through to the old apple orchard and horse farm beyond and scare each other about seeing wolves and monsters in the distance. It was always a lot of fun. That it was a little scary, but also so quiet and so different from the typical suburban street we had just walked from was what made it so special. Or maybe it was the whispers of the trees that gave it that magical air.

At a time when the earth is suffering as the result of the disconnected relationship most of us have with nature, the rare moments we get to experience the magic of being in nature are vital. In a way this book is a love letter to trees. On another level its an effort at preserving the memory of a feeling that I fear will be lost someday due to deforestation and environmental destruction. I often wonder if my grandchildren will get to know the feeling of being immersed in the Forest, allowing one- self to be temporarily disconnected from society and to feel connected with nature. Will they feel that magic spark?