This morning I received an inquiry concerning the symbolism within an illustration entitled ‘The Tree of Enchantments’ that I had done in 2004 for a Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators exhibit called ‘Myth, Legend & Folklore’. I’ve posted the illustration today with my comments for your enjoyment. A detail from this illustration also appears on my webfolio homepage: http://www.winnlederer.com
About The Tree Of Enchantments:
I believe that we create symbols and glyphs to encompass and represent the complex layers of meaning in our visions and memories drawn from the river of our collective consciousness to help us understand who we were, who we are and what we may yet be. Although much of my work has explored stories from the collections of many cultures, I intended the design for Myth, Legend & Folklore to encompass each of those genres, yet tell a story of its own. Accordingly, I thought about the elements that distinguish these stories from those of the mundane world.The first image that came to mind was a tree, since trees have been associated with myriad nature spirits among the earliest civilizations as they attempted to understand the meaning of Creation and their own existence in it. The thick, twisted branches of my tree portray its great age and wisdom which are emphasized by the eye, or spirit within its trunk.
The eye represents the apotropaic eye, to which many interpretations are attached. These range from the eye which sees all, knows all and protects from harm to the eye which is used to focus evil intentions as in the Greek legend of Medusa. Further exploring the trees’ anthropomorphic identity, I have substituted hands for leaves, emphasizing the implicit wishes for their inner spirits to touch the heavens. Many of the hand-leaves are holding symbols attributed to astrology, astronomy and alchemy. These ancient disciplines attempted to explore a dimension beyond human perception and were the basis of many legends and folktales. The tiny knight perched on the flying griffin represents the heroism and spirit of medieval lore with a nod to the colorful and fantastic creatures that illuminate manuscripts and bestiaries. This feature is further illustrated in the decorative floral banners held aloft by both figures. Finally, the sun and moon hover over this imaginary landscape to remind us that time is always suspended in the presence of enchantment.