Southern Agenda

Evergreen Attraction

“When I entered the forest for the first time, I felt like I had traveled back three or four hundred years,” says the Virginia-raised artist Kristin Leachman, whose exhibition Longleaf Lines opened July 23 and runs through early 2023 at the Georgia Museum of Art, in Athens. In 2020, she visited a Southwest Georgia old-growth longleaf pine forest, researching the ancient trees as part of her ongoing state-by-state project Fifty Forests. Longleaf pine forest once covered some ninety million acres from Texas to Virginia and was—and is—home to a biodiversity of species that rivals that of rain forests, including gopher tortoises, indigo snakes, bobwhite quail, and red-cockaded woodpeckers. After covering panels with shades of red, Leachman painted studies of the trees, focusing on the undulating bark patterns and the burn marks that attest to fire’s historic role in maintaining the health of the forest.