Monday, May 27, 2024

One of the “R.O.O.T. (Recognizing Our Oldest Trees)” exhibit displays in Somerville’s Davis Square. (Photo: Root Collective)

There are worries about tree loss on both sides of the Cambridge-Somerville line, where a photo exhibit called “R.O.O.T. (Recognizing Our Oldest Trees)” takes on the topic explicitly as well as artistically.

The 10-person exhibit, put together by a four-person “Root collective” with the help of the Somerville Arts Council, is on display until Jan. 15 in the Inside-Out Gallery windows outside the CVS at 1 Davis Square, viewable safely from the sidewalk.

“Trees are a valuable natural resource often thought of as expendable,” said the collective, Somerville residents Kerrie Kemperman, Deb Pacini, Renee Scott and Melissa McWhinney. “Trees tend to be cut or removed whenever they interfere with human goals: power lines, roads and train lines, sidewalks, housing construction … which are not inherently bad reasons to cut down a tree, but it is worth considering these as opportunities to work around trees that are already well established in a particular spot.”

Among the photos, the exhibit intersperses facts about trees – that they communicate, for instance, sending signals to each other about drought, disease and insect attacks, and share resources through roots systems and fungal networks. The photographs were selected not only for their own aesthetic qualities, but to draw attention to the beauty and environmental benefits of trees and to acknowledge the places where human activity often comes into conflict with them, organizers said. The hope was to encourage viewers of the exhibit to look more closely at the urban trees around them, they said, and to help protect and conserve them.

“If we are good stewards, trees will live hundreds of years, cleaning the air, decreasing flooding and cooling city air temperatures on hot summer days,” the organizers said. “Trees provide shelter and food for many types of wildlife, and grace our lives with their beauty.”

The collective has a Facebook page (@SomervilleROOT) and can be reached by email at [email protected].