In wood and fabric, a depiction titled “Tree of Life” invites passers-by at the Memorial Chapel of the University of Maryland in College Park to slow their gait and contemplate this symbol present in Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions. Lutheran Campus Ministry donated the new installation along with the Wofford K. Smith Religious Life Program Fund. The Rev. Richard H. Graham, bishop, ELCA Metro D.C. Synod, took part in dedicating the work’s installation on October 16, 2013.
On a base of wood prepared by two main carpenters, colorful needlepoint leaves fashioned by over 30 artists are affixed. The circle of contributing stitchers spread from the main embroiderer to students, staff, friends and alumni. “All together, at least 40 peoples took part in the community art project,” said Georgia Metz, a Lutheran Volunteer Corps volunteer placed with Lutheran Campus Ministry.
“What was formerly called the West Chapel is now the Garden Chapel because of this sprawling tree reaching across one wall,” notes Bishop Graham. “A major advocate for the work was Pastor Beth Platz, Lutheran Campus Pastor Emerita.”
“The interfaith Tree of Life has been permanently installed in the Garden (West) Chapel,” read a Stamp Student Union announcement inviting “those of all backgrounds and faiths to visit the space to admire the gorgeous work of art and to take time to pray, relax, and reflect.”
Additional photos and discussion of the project can be found at www.facebook.com/TreeOfLifeUMD.