The Arbor Animé - CODAworx

The Arbor Animé

Submitted by The Lessick Empire

Client: Town of Cary

Location: Cary, NC, United States

Completion date: 2018

Project Team


Helen Lessick

The Lessick Empire

Public Art Manager

Denise Dickens

Town of Cary NC

Town Arborist

Kevin Steed

Town of Cary


Exploring the daance of trees, this installation of sculptural tutus graced sixteen trees along a half mile stretch of Academy Street for a year. Fabric sculptures, 4” to 72” long, mounted on tree trunks move slowly in wind and times of calm. This installation uses the metaphor of dance to frame movements of living trees in Cary’s urban environs.


This installation was commissioned as part of a year-long visual arts celebration of music. My goal in siting my art in exisiting trees was to make visible the slow and stately dance of living trees. As viewers spot the sculptures, they notice how the branches move in the breeze and how each tree trunk also gently sways in slow cadence.
The Arbor Animé pays homage to ‘Le Jardin Anime’ the second act of Le Corsaire, a ballet based on a Lord Byron poem. The ballet premiered 1858; the 160th anniversary of the dance is 2018. Helen’s installation uses the metaphor of dance and music to explore the living environment.


I made the multi-layered polyester organza fabric skirts in 4” to 82” girths, custom made to tree trunks selected in collaboration with the town of Cary arborist. These Skirts were installed in collaboration with the city's park maintenance crews, from 8' to18' above ground. The 200' tall loblolly pines, with skirts at 40’ above ground, were installed by professional tree climbers hired by the artist. asking viewers to look up at our shared urban environment.

Additional Information

The Arbor Animé premiered with Helen introducing cellist Mark Moskovitz, playing Daniel Crawford’s Song for a Warming Planet composition based on sonification of 80 years of tree ring data. Inset: score for Song of a Warming Planet by Daniel Crawford, and page 1 of research paper ‘Making Climate Data Sing: Using Music-like Sonifications to Convey a Key Climate Record’ by Dr. Scott St. George, Crawford, et al,’ in Jan. 2017 American Meteorological Society. Used with permission.