Dawn Roe: Conditions for an Unfinished Work of Mourning: Wretched Yew at Tracey Morgan Gallery, Asheville

a series of small blue images of yew branches

Si’s Branch (Wasp) from the series, Conditions for an Unfinished Work of Mourning: Wretched Yew, 2019. Courtesy of the Tracey Morgan Gallery.

Produced over a two year period, Wretched Yew centers the Taxus brevifolia genus of yew tree and its location in the Pacific Northwest as its subject in relation to the artist’s past experience in the region. Having spent her formative years in Portland, Oregon through-out the 1990s in what she describes as a “tumultuous time when the pervasive sight of clear cut hillsides served as the visual backdrop to personal struggles with addiction, depression, and loss,” Roe found an in-depth engagement with the cultural and ecological legacy of this species provided a provocative framework for thinking through ongoing cycles of neglect. Upon the “discovery of taxol, an anticancer agent from the tissues of Pacific yew, the species [received] much attention.” Prior to this, Pacific yew was indiscriminately removed during logging operations “with no provision for regeneration or consideration of the effects on the population as a whole.” Works 1 in the exhibition connect the complex narratives and mythological associations of the yew tree—known as a symbol of death and regeneration—to Roe’s ongoing concerns with the limitations of photographic modes of re-presentation as reliable artifacts of the past. 

from the exhibition text
installation shot of an image of a forest
Installation view of Dawn Roe: Conditions for an Unfinished Work of Mourning: Wretched Yew. Courtesy of the Tracey Morgan Gallery.
several images of a tintype of yew branches

Si’s Branch (Film) from the series, Conditions for an Unfinished Work of Mourning: Wretched Yew, 2019. Courtesy of the Tracey Morgan Gallery.
several images of yew branches

Si’s Branch (Dried) from the series Conditions for an Unfinished Work of Mourning: Wretched Yew, 2020. Courtesy of the Tracey Morgan Gallery. 
framed photographs of tree branches
Installation view of Dawn Roe: Conditions for an Unfinished Work of Mourning: Wretched Yew. Courtesy of the Tracey Morgan Gallery.
Clackamas River Yew (Folded) from the series, Conditions for an Unfinished Work of Mourning: Wretched Yew, 2019.Courtesy of the Tracey Morgan Gallery. 

Conditions for an Unfinished Work of Mourning: Wretched Yew was on view at the Tracey Morgan Gallery from October 2 – November 21, 2020.