Columbus Cap-UP

The Columbus Arts Pop-Up Project (CAP-UP) is a series of installation window displays by area artists. The project is a partnership between the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) and the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District (SID).

Mourning the Ash Tree by Terri Maloney Houston



A lovely and defining feature of the city of Columbus is our numerous and diverse species of trees. Columbus has been named a “Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation for over 30 years. This designation recognizes excellence in city tree management programs.

Growing up in Columbus, my childhood memories include tree climbing, shade tree dreaming, and autumn leaf-pile jumping. Returning from a trip to the western states as a young adult, I was struck by the rich layer of green surrounding and enveloping our daily lives.

A blue “X” recently appeared on the ash tree in front of my house. This indicates it is scheduled for removal due to the Emerald Ash Borer infestation. It is believed that the Emerald Ash Borer arrived from the Far East in shipping containers in 2002. It has proven deadly to Midwestern ash trees- trees are dead from 1-3 years following infestation, and efforts to eradicate the insect have failed. I live in the northwest Columbus “Gables” neighborhood, where streets are lined with ash trees. Ash tree removal has begun, making some streets look like a man with a too-short buzz haircut. In fact, one in 10 trees in Ohio is an ash, making the species an important component of Columbus neighborhoods, parks, and yards. Their loss will prove a noticeable impact on the natural environment of our city, and it is a sad event happening as our city turns 200.

This installation consists of hundreds of clay impressions of the leaves from my ash tree, against a photo of the tree itself. The work references the rituals and images we use to memorialize our lost loved ones. It is my hope that the viewer takes a moment to acknowledge this loss to our natural environment, but also to realize that change and loss are a part of life, encouraging us to savor each moment.

Artist Bio

Terri Maloney Houston was born in Columbus, Ohio and earned her BFA in Ceramics from The Ohio State University. During her tenure as the first executive director of the Columbus Art League (now the Ohio Art League), she was influenced by Mary Jane Alford and Sherrill and Charles Massey, among others. She has taught in a variety of community and therapeutic art venues including the Dublin Arts Council, Days of Creation, and The Rosemont Center. Her work has been exhibited by the Ohio Art League, the Ohio Designer Craftsmen, The Dairy Barn, and The Fort Hayes Shot Tower Gallery. She is a member of the Ohio Art League and CAW: Creative Arts of Women. She is currently creating ceramic sculptural installations which explore subjects of connection, loss, and mourning and movement.