Artist Katie Holten recently created the New York City Tree Alphabet, which was inspired by the natural world around her. Each letter is represented by a distinct variety of tree found in New York City. For example, the letter A is portrayed as an ash tree, whereas the letter O is depicted as an oak tree.
Holten was one of the first artists-in-residence at NYC Parks, where she was instructed to investigate “the nexus of art, urban ecology, sustainability, nature, and design.” Holten’s resultant NYC Trees typeface is now accessible for anybody who wishes to create hidden messages in tree code as a free download. Not only that, but the NYC Parks Department aims to plant some of the messages in parks and other public locations as real trees.
“Working with Parks as an artist-in-residence allowed me to design a’real’ tree alphabet.” “When I say real,” Holten clarifies, “I mean legitimate, sanctioned, and approved by the city.” “This is frequently the last thing you want with/for an artwork!” However, because I believe the project is a public service—providing a tool that people can use to connect with public space in a whole new way—it needs to be honest and realistic in this circumstance. It has to be something we could really plant, as well as something that the city would support.”
Holten’s website is presently accepting message contributions. You may use the “Write with Trees” tool on her webpage to see how your words might look as trees in everything from poetry to love letters. “We’re keeping it fully open right now, so we have no clue what messages we’ll be planting.” “I’m looking forward to seeing what people send us,” adds Holten. “Words like ‘dream,’ ‘hope,’ and ‘peace’ have been suggested.” Longer messages, love letters, poetry, and short novels are also being sent to us. We’re interested in seeing how we can turn a long text into a forest of planted trees. It’s a fun challenge, and because we can make up the rules as we go, anything may happen.”
The New York City Tree Alphabet was created by artist Katie Holten, and each letter is represented by an artwork of a different variety of tree.
The tree typeface is available for free download, and New York City intends to use it to plant public messages in parks around the city.