Taekwondo is where my journey began. In Songahm style taekwondo, the Pine Tree represents the strength and loyalty one builds through the practice. The Rock symbolizes long life and loyalty. Together, they symbolize both the path of Songahm taekwondo and the results one can achieve. My first piece in this series was built to celebrate the point when my teacher achieved Mastership, the first of the higher levels of rank within this style.
While my own progression through the system halted at level 1 Black Belt due to unrelated physical limitations, my personal growth did not stop. I was 45 years-old when I received my Black Belt, and I felt like life was just beginning.
This series was my first. What I discovered early on was working in series offers me the opportunity to go deeper and push my own limitations. It is easier to allow each piece to distill itself into just the elements needed to express the idea. I feel less compelled to try to get every interesting element, technique, and skill into the current work because I know another work is coming. I can lean into my strengths while I edge into the uncomfortable. As within the forms of Songahm taekwondo, within a series is where I grow.
Tree and Rock is the longest series I’ve tackled. It’s been one that progresses slowly, and I’m okay with that. As each new piece takes shape, I see new growth in my art form, my skills, and my perspective. While many of the early rules I’d set for this series have fallen away, the series holds its cohesion. I thank the Tree and Rock philosophy I learned through Songahm taekwondo and the deeper self-knowledge with which my taekwondo experience gifted me for that cohesion.