Tiffany Shlain’s Dendrofemonology

Dr. Nancy joined a packed house of 450 attendees and acclaimed interdisciplinary artist Tiffany Shlain in San Francisco for the debut of Tiffany’s new art installation, Human Nature, presented by the National Women’s History Museum and Women Connect4Good. The show opened on November 2, 2022 and features twenty-four works: six tree rings exploring different histories, twelve mixed-media lightboxes, five photographs and a time-based media film. Each piece is available in four limited editions. The highlight of the installation, “Dendrofemonology” (feminist tree ring), uses the historical tree ring to illustrate a timeline of the story of women and power in society. The tree ring—a 55-by-61-inch slice of deodar cedar—highlights key moments in women’s history from 50,000 BCE (Goddesses are worshiped) to 2022 (overturning of Roe V. Wade).

“I have always been fascinated by the tree ring timelines at the entrance of Muir Woods or any National Park. They illuminate how the trees are a witness to human history. However, I also felt like those timelines tell a colonialist and patriarchal story,” Tiffany said. “Like I was being mansplained history. The tree rings in Human Nature imagine what alternate histories could be told…”

Human Nature shares Tiffany’s journey, and touches on what Dr. Nancy feels is our shared humanity. “There was such a powerful response to the exhibit. We were all looking at history through a feminist lens, This exhibit really touches on our humanity and our shared, lived experience.”

Jennifer Herrera with NWHM agreed. “Through her inspiring, compelling, and thought-provoking work, Tiffany has long embraced her role as a creator to affect change through art and storytelling. Human Nature is yet another powerful extension of her commitment to exploring issues of gender equity, equality, and women’s representation. This important exhibition guides visitors to the future through an exploration of the past, allowing viewers to reflect on history and inspiring them to act to create a more representative, inclusive world.”

NWHM has taken Dendrofemonology’s powerful milestones – the text burned into the feminist history tree ring – and made it interactive, going deeper into some of the lines here.

The Human Nature exhibit will be on display through January 2023 at the San Francisco Ferry Building’s SHACK15. There are a number of ways to experience the exhibit in person in San Francisco or online, for details go here.

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