The Buzz

The Secret Life Of Trees // Miriam Oliphant // Visitor Center Gallery

About The Show: 

"I love the inspiring richness of Trees. They absorb powerful earth energy, which flows through them, up and out toward the light of the heavens, as they reach for the source. Their radiance flows out to all in their presence. Unseen, magical qualities can be experienced and conjured through trees - the light and energy of the creator in its various forms. Secret worlds have long been imagined through and around trees. In this body of work, I joyfully explore the more playful and whimsical essence of this beloved symbol of life and humanity, which I refer to as the Secret Light of Trees."

Dusky Dream

Artist Interview: 

MBG: Can you talk a bit about the integration of paper into this body of work? I know that you had some interesting discoveries while beginning to work with bits of brightly colored paper. Something happened that went beyond it being a mere material. Can you elaborate on that?

Miriam Oliphant: In the creation of this tree-centered body of work, I use brightly colored bits of paper and material, most of which originated as trees. These have relevance beyond their role as an art material. When layered together, they take on a small life of their own. Like a patchwork of incongruent parts and pieces, insignificant in and of themselves, the whole (of a life, or a work of art) is greater than the sum of its parts. Yet each small piece is significant and necessary. When placed in the proper context, anyone or anything can shine. I love breathing new life into the repurposed materials I use as they enter a new context. This underscores my belief that things never really die, they only take new form. 

MBG: Do you have the colors and layers worked out before you begin a piece via sketches or does the piece create itself as your work? I notice in some pieces that there are patterned layers of paint underneath the paper...

Miriam Oliphant: I begin my pieces with a rough idea for the feel of each piece, based on the background and form of the tree. This rough image is not on paper, but in my head, and very much subject to change. It is not at all specific, as part of the joy of creating these trees comes from the element of surprise, as each tree gradually reveals its identity.

MBG: You attended some impressive schools of art in NYC! (see bio) I also know that you worked creating designs for textiles during those years. Would you say your work is greatly influenced by the decorative arts?

Miriam Oliphant: I spent some time working in the NYC textile industry, creating original textile designs for sale in the fashion industry. The richness of the patterns spoke to me in ways I still hear, and I carry this dimension into my work both consciously and unconsciously – there is definitely a dimension of decorative arts influence in my work. This is a means to an end, which is the specific energy each painting ends up emitting. I find the repetitive aspect of pattern based elements soothing and meditative, like a mantra in the background, grounding the more unique, spontaneous and whimsical forms I combine them with – and these often refer to textiles or the decorative arts as well. 

Summer Glow

About The Artist:

Miriam Lippman Oliphant graduated from the School of Visual Arts (NYC) with a BFA in 1987. She has also studied art at the Fashion Institute of Technology (NYC), The Art Student's League of New York, Université de Paris VIII (Paris, France), and Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY). 

Posted by Stephanie Cosby at 11:28 AM


For updates and more!

Enhancing lives by connecting people with plants to increase awareness and appreciation of our environment.


Central Daylight Time Hours:
9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Central Standard Time (Winter) Hours:
9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Have a question?

Daily Garden Admission

Adults $10.00
Seniors (62 & over) $8.00
Children (2-12) $5.00
Children (under 2) FREE
Members FREE
* Handicapped Accessible

Group Visits



We are located at:
750 Cherry Road
Memphis, TN 38117
(Between Park & Southern)

Directions & Parking