CAW Mt. Vernon White Ash Project

Saturday, May 8, 2004

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Woodturning artist, Bruce Hoover, of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, created this wooden vessel. The wood came from a tree still standing on George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in northern Virginia. The 209-year-old white ash tree was damaged during hurricane Isabel in September 2003. It has been documented that George Washington himself planted this tree in 1795.

The artist incorporated many natural features of the wood into the vessel’s design to create particular meaning and historical symbolism.

Placement of the tree’s heartwood sprawling across the vessel depicts the strong heart of a growing nation as we began to expand westward.

Voids formed in the wood from natural damage and healing exemplify the battle scars suffered by a nation struggling for independence, and learning to stand on its own, as represented by the carved feet that are an integral part of the single piece of wood.

Weighing only 12 ounces, the delicately turned thin walls typify a "fragile" young nation, one beset by political, economic and diplomatic uncertainty,

Natural grain patterns in the wood on the side of the vessel suggested the form of a wing of a bald eagle, which the artist created.

The flag is the Betsy Ross flag, which was a symbol of unity for a new nation, commissioned by Congress and approved by General George Washington.

The artist has created a vessel, which to him captures the spirit of a new, independent nation. He asks the individual viewer to look at the piece and take away his or her own ideas about its symbolism.

Photos by David Dereng