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Tree Talks (Winter)

Ben Kinsley

Tree Talks: Populus tremuloides is an art project by Ben Kinsley that features a year-long series of gatherings focused on understanding a single tree through a multitude of perspectives. The project centers on Populus tremuloides (Quaking Aspen), the most broadly distributed tree in North America and Colorado’s only widespread, native, deciduous tree. Once per season, the public is invited to gather around a grove of Quaking Aspen at Kenosha Pass and hear lectures by experts from diverse fields—ranging from ecologists to poets—who each share their knowledge of the tree. As part of the project, Kinsley is recording each of the gatherings, which will be compiled and later released as a limited-edition vinyl album and publication that encapsulates a multivocal story about a Quaking Aspen grove at Kenosha Pass.

Guest Speakers
Marilyn A. Martorano is a Registered Professional Archaeologist with over 40 years of experience in the Rocky Mountain region. She began studying historic culturally peeled ponderosa pine trees at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in 1977. Marilyn wrote her thesis on Culturally Modified Trees (CMTs) and has continued research on a variety of species including aspen and a newly-identified CMT type, bristlecone pine. Her archaeological research interests also include early Hispano settlement in southern Colorado; and lithophones, a previously-unidentified Colorado prehistoric rock artifact type exhibiting acoustical properties.

Christine Biermann, PhD, is the Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at University of Colorado Colorado Springs, where she leads the Tree Ring Lab. Since 2007, she has been studying the annual growth rings in trees to investigate issues of environmental change in forests. With UCCS students and colleagues, Christine is currently studying how drought and warming temperatures are affecting Colorado's alpine treeline and foothills ecosystems.

Dr. Brian D. Linkhart is a Professor of Ornithology in the Department of Organismal Biology and Ecology at Colorado College, where he has taught field courses in Ornithology, Ecology, and Field Biology since 2001. Previously, he was a seasonal research biologist for the U.S. Forest Service for 18 years, and he began teaching summer field seminars on forest ecology in the mid-1980s. For the past 40 years, Brian has conducted research on the population ecology of Flammulated Owls, which are tiny raptors that nest in cavities excavated by woodpeckers, often in quaking aspen trees, within old pine forests of western North America.

Listen to the Tree Talks (Winter) lecture series:

Artist Bio
Ben Kinsley’s projects have ranged from choreographing a neighborhood intervention into Google Street View, directing surprise theatrical performances inside the homes of strangers, organizing a paranormal concert series, staging a royal protest, investigating feline utopia, collecting put-down jokes from around the world, and planting a buried treasure in the streets of Mexico City (yet to be found).

He has exhibited internationally at venues such as: Queens Museum, NYC; Cleveland Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland; Bureau for Open Culture; Mattress Factory Museum, Pittsburgh, and many more. Ben has been an artist-in-residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting and TV Sculpture; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts; Skaftfell Art Center, Iceland; Askeaton Contemporary Arts, Ireland; and Platform, Finland. His work has been featured on NPR, Associated Press, The Washington Post,,,, and Temporary Art Review, among others.

Kinsley is an Assistant Professor and Co-Director of Visual Art in the Department of Visual & Performing Arts at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He is Co-Founder of The Yard and President of the Pikes Peak Mycological Society.

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This project is produced by Black Cube with support by a CRCW (Committee on Research and Creative Works) Seed Grant from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.