The Magic of Trees

by Shawn Daniell


I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer. 1886–1918 (

I’ve always believed that trees have a spiritual energy that surrounds them. Trees, in a way, remind me of people, outreaching arms eternally striving for heaven. Some trees are silent and still, while others dance to the music of strong winds. During the winter months they lie fallow, while during the springtime they come to life during a process of rebirth, as nature around them thaws. Trees are the ultimate symbol of growth and life. Kent Krugh has found a way of bringing that magic to the viewer with a series of photographs titled Inside the Gates, recently on display at The Carnegie in Covington, Kentucky as part of the Parade exhibit. He has created a space in which echoes of another world peek through. In each black-and-white photograph, Krugh has positioned a solitary, leafless tree in the center of the frame. All of these images were taken during the winter, a time when nature may be perceived in a state of death or unnatural sleep; the ground is cold, barren, and lacks the vital greenness we love so much. But things are not as they appear; there is still life among the frigid environment. Krugh, a clinical radiological Physicist by day, has found a channel for communicating the magical quality of trees.

A certain amount of classic simplicity and purity exists in black-and-white photography. Notice how the images look like drawings or paintings, adding another layer of aesthetic depth to them. Although the trees appear to be the focal point of each photograph, as you view each picture, you can see faint whispers of gravestones, cars, people, children, and the surrounding forest ever so slightly blur in and out. When I look at them, I think of ghosts and the spirit realm. For some, the blurred images of gravestones or references to the dead may be an eerie subject matter. For me, there is an almost dreamlike quality that puts me at ease. I could see myself sitting down and leaning my head against one of these trees, falling asleep and dreaming of magical, mystical beings as I relax to the rhythm of a quiet peacefulness. There are many themes at work in Krugh’s artwork including death, beauty, birth, humanity, and the spiritual magic of nature. I am not a religious person by any means; I gravitate to a more spiritual outlook on life, and these images speak to me on that level. Ultimately Krugh has created a very serene space where we can take in all the beauties and reflect on the interconnectedness of the world around us.
You can see Krugh’s next exhibition, a solo show featuring his Angel Oak series, at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio in August of this year. For more information about Krugh and his artwork, visit his website HYPERLINK “” for more information.

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