Sculptor carves tribute to New Orleans in tree struck by lightning in Isaac

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 10:43 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 15 at 8:37 AM

Dennis Woltering / Eyewitness News
Email: dwoltering@wwltv.com | Twitter: @dwoltering

NEW ORLEANS -- The Mothership Foundation that puts on Bayou Boogaloo this coming weekend in Mid-City has launched a campaign to replace the live oaks along Bayou St. John.

As part of that campaign, a prominent tree sculptor from Florida is now creating a landmark work of art along the bayou from a tree that died during Hurricane Isaac.

Wood sculptor Marlin Miller chooses one project a year to give to a community. This year, it is an oak tree, a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, hit by a deadly lightning strike in Hurricane Isaac.

“So I think a plaque at the bottom of this tree will read something like let this tree stand here to represent the resilience of this community,” Miller said.

Miller says he doesn't start with sketch or a vision. He just follows what the tree seems to offer.

Here in New Orleans, he wanted to include some of the wildlife and music that makes this place unique, and he wants to create a landmark.

Miller has been carving art 12 to 14 hours a day since Saturday, and it's given him a chance to meet people who have come by to compliment him on his work.

“And I’ve had a lot of people take that as an opportunity to share their stories of their survival and of their recovery and of their comeback, which is reflective in this sculpture, so it’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Miller has done dozens of projects like this around the country, including a number on the Gulf Coast. He aims to finish this in time for the annual Bayou Boogaloo taking place here on Bayou St. John starting Friday.

In a place that faces so many daunting challenges and has overcome devastating disaster, Marlin Miller says his work of art will be a tribute.

“Tribute to music, tribute to the city, tribute to nature, and stands here as a reflection of the resilience of this community after a bad storm.

Miller says he looks for a large tree in a public space with some kind of emotion or meaning to create a work of art. He said this fit perfectly. And with some varnish to finish it off, it should last for years.

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