Inspiration Behind Art at SAARC
Brandywine, Maryland — Artist Judy Moore was one of the three selected finalists of local artists in Prince George's County that were chosen to design art for the new Southern Area Aquatics and Recreation Complex (SAARC). This recreation center, built by Coakley & Williams Construction, will be the first multi-generational community center in the county. Once complete, the 75,000+ square-foot building will include a natatorium, spa pool, gymnasium, running track, fitness rooms, locker rooms, a cafe, event spaces, and a couple of outdoor patios.
Standing tall to the West of the front entrance of the SAARC building is the grand willow oak specimen tree. It has an age approximated to be between 150 to 200 years old. It is also known as "mother tree" and has been dubbed the name Willie Oak. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission recently completed a study of the trees on this project site and found that the colossal tree in fact mothered the hundreds of surrounding trees, which are only about 30 years young. Many trees had to be cleared so the recreation complex could be built for this community, but the Willie Oak mother tree is protected because of her long history with the land.
THE MOTHER TREE
The design for the new 20-foot high sculpture that will be the main attraction at the entrance of the building is sculpted and influenced by a leaf that fell from Willie Oak. Judy Moore picked it up, and was inspired by its curvature and form. She marveled at the magnificent fact that the leaf fell from a tree that held so many decades of knowledge. It has seen countless seasons and years come and go, after all.
By dividing the art sculpture into two, and placed at a specific angle, the split shadows cause a light shaft to beam directly onto the tall mother tree sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 pm. "The sculpture is called Willie Oak and the Guardians”, says Moore. “This sculpture is the guardian of the tree. This tree holds the history of this area and has seen everything in its lifetime."
You may also recognize other works from Moore's portfolio, such as The Takoma Trees at Grand and The Windows on Arts Alley in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland.