The village of Saint Simons Island, Georgia is a tranquil place, and is particularly so in the early morning. Just adjacent to the village crossroads is a beautiful oak hammock, where on a recent weekend walk we discovered a wonderful surprise … soulful faces carved into a number of the live oaks.
We literally stumbled into the first one, and had no idea there were more. Our conversation was as expected, “They look like Druids! What a cool sculpture. I wonder who did it?”
And then, a few yards away, and facing a different direction, we spied another one. Suddenly, it became an “Easter Egg Hunt in the Hammock.” We managed to find eight, and suspect that there are more.
Our research found that the artist responsible is local sculptor, Keith Jennings. He carved the first Tree Spirit in 1982, and has completed 20 so far, with each taking 2-4 days to complete. The Spirits even have their own website.
According to local legend, the faces represent sailors lost at sea, and the tree limbs and Spanish moss waving in the breeze show the sailor’s anguish. This makes a good campfire tale, but according to an interview published by the San Diego Reader, Jennings works with each tree’s soul.
“The trees do it all, said Jennings. “I don’t have that much to do with it. The wood speaks to you, ya know?”
Whatever the inspiration, we thoroughly enjoyed the art, and are on the lookout for the other 12. We told you that we’re going to be looking for the “Exotic in America” … and this seems like a pretty good start!
If you can’t get enough of these wonderful Tree Spirits, here are some more we’ve found: