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Forest for the Trees: The Tree Planters

Tue, Jan 18/22 – 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Click here (Zoom link) to register.

Grappling with themes of sustainability, recovery, community and resilience, Rita Leistner’s epic five-years-in-the-making Forest for the Trees examines the hardship and opportunity of the Anthropocene by creating the most in-depth and intimate multi-media art project ever made about professional tree planting in Canada, widely considered one of the toughest jobs in the world and one of the most feasible ways of combatting climate change. In this talk moderated by Professor of Forestry, Dr. Sandy Smith, who was the forestry consultant on Forest for the Trees, Leistner will discuss her work as politically engaged art, and share the process, inspirations and influences that got her here (and of course show photographs and film footage and tell a few stories!). 

Image of Rita

University of Toronto alumna (MA, Comparative Literature, 1990) Rita Leistner is an award-winning visual artist, author, photographer, educator, and documentary filmmaker. She is known for her intrepid work in conflict zones and her in-depth portraits of communities in extreme conditions — such as soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, women wrestlers in the United States, and loggers in Canada — exploring themes of purpose, struggle, and belonging. Each unique world shapes her conceptual approaches and aesthetic styles, resulting in distinctive, large bodies of multi-media work that merge art and documentary. Her latest project, Forest for the Trees, the “perfect Canadian hat-trick,” is a feature documentary film, a photo-book and a collection of large-scale fine art photographs, several of which were recently acquired by the National Gallery of Canada for their permanent collection. During her ten years working as a professional tree planter in the 80s and 90s (to help earn money to pay for her studies at U of T!), Rita planted over a half million trees and supervised the planting of many millions more. Her work is represented by the Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto.