Graftings 1, 2023 76" x 96" (h)

Graftings is a sculptural series by Lincoln Schatz that engages with the structure and design of tree canopies. Through abstraction, alteration and extrapolation Schatz transforms the trunks, branches, stems, buds and leaves of North American trees. By employing this conceptual process he expands upon the original to create something simultaneously fantastical and unreal.

Graftings 1
Graftings 1, (detail)

These sculptures connect the natural world to the spaces that we inhabit. Bridging interior and exterior. Tying together the materials found in our buildings to the landscapes that surround us.


Trees first appear as a subject in Schatz’s landscape photography featuring the forests of North America. These editions focus on both the macro and micro worlds of trees. Exploring the interrelationships that exist between trees, plants, wildlife and human beings over time.

Graftings 1, (detail)
Graftings 1, (detail)

“I started a new edition of artworks at the end of 2021. Solitary tree canopies rendered in heavy black ink were created by hand in the studio. This series departed dramatically from my prior work that focused on forests.”

Lincoln Schatz

Heat of Its Being and Its Will to Be (1), (Arts Club Chicago) 36" x 41.5" (h)

“The source tree for Graftings 1 is truly remarkable. Most people would pass by it without a second glance. It is an unassuming, smallish, Hawthorn. Solid hard wood, thorned branches. A tree that can grow in difficult conditions. And this particular tree has managed to survive along the shore of Lake Michigan. It stands defiantly on the lakefront flourishing in the summer and withstanding fierce winter storms. It is the ability to survive against all odds that makes this tree majestic.


I pass by this tree twice a day. And have stood beside it many times while photographing the past eight years for the Lake Series.  Laying on my back under the tree looking up at the canopy I am transfixed by its regal nature, the complexity of interwoven branches creates a mesmerizing world above me. One day I began photographing the tree. Returning over time to study its form as seasons passed and leaves disappeared with winter winds. The resulting work, created out of these photographs can first be seen in Heat of Its Being and Its Will to Be (1).”

Lincoln Schatz

Coinciding with preparatory work for the debut of the limited edition, Heat of Its Being and Its Will to Be, a series of questions emerged about how a tree might be imagined in sculptural form. These questions led to the initial concepts that would drive the creation of the Graftings series.

Graftings, 1 (detail)

How do we understand a tree? What are trees to us? How do we live with and beside them and how do they fill our lives and our memories? There is an awe in the feeling of standing under a tree and looking up. Becoming lost staring up at the branches. Studying their structure and design. Linking together in ever smaller pieces as they extend out from a central point. Forming micro-climates and worlds for other plants and animals to live. Creating sympathetic and symbiotic relationships throughout the forest eco-system.

Graftings 1, (detail)

Grafting is the process of connecting two or more plants together physically. Causing them to grow as a single plant above the point of connection. In nature grafting has occurred as the byproduct of branches or tree trunks and most commonly roots, pushing and rubbing together. This physical contact creates points where, as growth continues, trees join together on a cellular level.

Graftings, (exterior courtyard installation, artist rendering)

There is a long history of grafting in the relationship of humans and trees. Grafting done by humans can be possibly traced back several thousand years BC, and features in the writings of Virgil and others. Grafting appears across cultures with espalier and other techniques being recorded in history throughout Asia, Egypt and Mesopotamia, Europe and the Americas.

Graftings 1, (detail)

But grafting also has a history within architecture, design and art. Artists and designers have explored grafting strategies to create living furniture, buildings and visual art as well.


Grafting is depicted in Greek mythology in the stories of Philemon and Baucis. Joined together in eternity by the gods Jupiter and Saturn as a single standing tree. Their story depicted numerous times throughout art history including in the paintings of Rembrandt.


As a horticultural practice grafting has often been employed when seeking solutions for disease, hardiness and the lifespan of trees.

For Schatz the grafting he employs begins in the studio where he builds each intricate artwork by hand. Using a database of photographs as source material, he extrapolates and then extends their forms. Joining and altering before bringing together individual stems, branches, boughs and trunks to create detailed sculptures. Each artwork in the series is unique and requires hundreds of hours to complete.

Grafting 1, (fabrication)
Graftings 1, (installation)

An important part of Schatz’s artistic process has always involved technology. As a result of advancements in fabrication these artworks can be scaled across a wide range of sizes, materials, installation strategies and forms. From works for smaller interior rooms to large free standing sculptural installations intended for outdoor spaces and venues, these highly adaptable sculptures help to shape the places they inhabit. Schatz has long pushed at the boundaries of technology in his generative new media artworks and Graftings is no different. These artworks are at the edges of what is technically possible today.

“My history of object making and engagement with new technologies led me to think about other expressions for these artworks.  It took over a year of experimenting with various technologies, materials and processes to arrive at this sculptural series.


Graftings is a merger of forty years of engagement with photography, sculpture and new media. Bringing the experience gained from these practices together to create dynamic forms.”

Lincoln Schatz

Following an extensive period of research and development involving the studio collaborating with expert craftspeople these sculptures can now take any number of forms. This adaptability and flexibility in process introduces exciting possibilities when creating unique artworks for clients.

Graftings 1, 2023
76″ x 96″ (h)

The first sculpture in this series, Graftings 1, is currently available for private viewing in person in Chicago. The artwork measures 76 inches in width by 95 inches in height.


Each artwork is available in 3 sizes, in an edition of 3 along with 1 Artists Proof:

45” (w) x 57” (h)
61” (w) x 76” (h)
76” (w) x 95” (h)


For more information and to setup a viewing appointment or to purchase a sculpture from this collection, please be in touch.

Graftings 1, (detail)