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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Kesler Woodward

Leaning In

drawing of two birch trees made up of varying blocks of color from yellow bark to green and purple shadows
acrylic on canvas, 30″ × 40″, 2020. ©Kesler Woodward

The Woods in Winter Dream About Spring

hyper-colored painting of trees made up of solid color fields outlined in black
acrylic on canvas, 20″ × 20″, 2022. ©Kesler Woodward

Young Ones

intricate drawings of tree seedlings made of solid areas of color outlined in black on a light gray background
acrylic on canvas, 40″ × 30″, 2016. ©Kesler Woodward

Dancing Into the Dark

intricate drawing of a tree with colorful autumn leaves where each color area is outlined in black
acrylic on canvas, 60″ × 48″, 2015. ©Kesler Woodward

The theme of this issue is at the heart of my work. Trees have always taken the place of people in my paintings—in their individuality, their strength, their vulnerability…in the way what happens to them in their lives is written in their “skin.” That’s why I have for decades called so many of my paintings “birch portraits.”

Many of my paintings bear titles like “The Trees in Winter Dream about Spring.” I always wonder what the trees and forests dream–as they dance in autumn into the darkness of the winter, or long in winter for the coming spring.


Fairbanks Alaska artist Kesler Woodward has painted the boreal forest and the circumpolar north for more than 45 years–from Alaska to Hudson Bay in the Canadian Arctic and the Siberian coast. His solo exhibits have included the University of Alaska Museum, Alaska State Museum, Anchorage Museum, Morris Museum of Art, Nevada Museum of Art, and public and private galleries throughout the U.S. Woodward’s paintings are included in all major public art collections in Alaska and in museum, corporate, and private collections on both coasts of the U.S. and abroad. In 2004 Woodward received the first Alaska Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, and in 2012 he was awarded the Rasmuson Foundation’s Distinguished Artist Fellowship.

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