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Tree-mendous 

Oak trees in their myriad varieties are so ubiquitous that it's easy to overlook their significance. As a stout tree rich in cultural, historical, mythological and commercial importance, oak has been used in everything from ships to housing, furniture, and the barrels that age wine and spirits. It's the national tree of several countries, including ours; the beautiful white oak (Quercus alba) is the state tree of Illinois. So what happens to this living organism when it dies? Artist Pae White illustrates the answer in her digital animation piece Dying Oak, in Gallery 301 of the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (314-721-0072 or www.slam.org). White uses 3-D scanning technology to gather visual data from both the inside and outside surfaces of an 800-year-old oak tree; these data are then translated into flickering dot clusters. The result is an intimate study of the death process of an ancient being. Dying Oak remains on display Tuesday through Sunday through Sunday, January 16, 2011. Admission is free.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 21. Continues through Jan. 16, 2010

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