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Trees in Transition
Jim Motl


I am originally from Bismarck, ND and have been in Fargo for the past twenty-four years.  I have lived through being a farmer-rancher, welder, machinist, boiler operator and maintenance mechanic. I'm married with two adult children. To quote the Grateful Dead, Lyric, "What a long, strange trip it's been."

I started meditation practice with a couple friends at the Spirit Room eight years ago with their encouragement. Even after their resignment from the group practice I continued attending, finding that it helped calm my mind and provided more clarity and focus for my sculptures. Over time attending these weekly meditations led into discussions of Buddhism and attending the weekly Buddhist book club. Through the discussion of Buddhist texts, I began incorporating some of these practices into my daily life, finding they further aided in my mental clarity for sculpting. Eventually I visited Minneapolis where I attended retreats with Khenpo Sherab Sanpo, which transitioned me to accept Buddhism as my personal philosophy.

My tree carving started about six years ago when I helped a friend move part of an ironwood tree that was left in their backyard. Instead of ending up as firewood, it became a Tiki statue, a Buddha and two dragons. My first goal was to make a single, simple chainsaw carving but it did not stop until I was cutting with a Dremel tool, a knife, sanding and finishing with a wood stain. I would say that I sculpture trees, not wood, as I keep the tree in mind and that I am just transforming it, it is still the same tree.  

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