A couple of years ago, I wrote a book devoted to the healing energy of trees called, “A Healing Grove.” Way before I wrote that book, I created this drawing in situ at the Oak Park Conservatory. I remember it was to be a gathering of local artists to paint and draw, using the conservatory as an open studio. It was a cold night outside and it was quite damp, dark and cool inside since we were there after regular hours. I was a little disorientated at first because of all of the different tree energies and plant life pulsating in the ecosystem themed rooms. I settled in on the tropical room because it seemed to speak the clearest language. I’ve always loved palms and banana trees as well as other fruit trees. They give us so much in terms of sustenance, shelter, art and craft materials, spiritual resources for healing, ceremony and ritual. I enjoy using banana papers in my studio, as well as palm waste paper and fig bark pressed into paper. I have used these in a variety of projects over time, as well as recycled papers within the packaging for my two product lines. I think the tropical room spoke to me clearly because of my ancestry. I know my ancestors came from hot, tree-filled environments in Western and Southern Africa. The main place I have spent time in the tropical regions and rain forests has been in Australia, during my time studying Aboriginal Art as a Fulbrighter. When I look at the right side of this drawing I am reminded of the time I was invited to get painted up, in earth pigments, and dance the Bird Dance of my clan’s moiety, during a funerary march. Our feet movements were intensely bird-like, while our hips swayed like palms. I have related trees and dance throughout my life because they do seem to dance in their upper regions if you observe carefully. They also have a language referred to as Tree Whispers that a Tree Whisperer can understand. I would not call myself a tree whisperer yet the trees have definitely spoken to me throughout my life and they ask me to dance for them. As a child when I first heard the call I was facing off to a wood, on the other side of the lake and I gladly pirouetted. Out bush, in Australia’s Arnhemland, when I stayed in the Galiwinku community of Elcho Island I was moved by the Ghost Gum Trees and watching the artists retrieve and treat its bark, making it ready to receive dreamtime stories. Because of the unique ability of trees to speak and their physicality they have always been intimately tied to our storytelling, after all where would books be historically without them? With personal history in mind with my connection to trees I set out to do this drawing with pastels, vine charcoal and a large box of colored pencils. I wanted to capture the movements, vibrational energy and healing potential held in the tropics and within many trees elsewhere as well.