Arbor Aid Featured Artist: Sharon Jo Serbin

Tree Pittsburgh is featuring some artists who have participated in Arbor Aid nearly every year since its inception 5 years ago. See these artists' work in person at Arbor Aid 2012! Get your tickets to Arbor Aid here.

Sharon Jo Serbin, “embracing [her] wise woman years at 51 years old”, lives in the Highland Park area and is mom to 3 adult children: Sierra 24, Ian 21, and Logan 19, and 2 dogs. In addition to creating artwork, she models for art classes, teaches pilates and water aerobics, Sunday School and Hebrew School, is a massage therapist and Reiki practitioner, and a professional storyteller.  She has participated in Arbor Aid every year since 2008, and is one of the only artists who creates life-like high relief carvings.  You can see Sharon Jo Serbin create a carving in person at the Soil Mixer—she will be a demonstration artist from 6:30-8:30 at the event. 

Sharon has always loved wood.  “It is nature, of the Earth, to the Earth,” she says.  “I am a Wild Child, a tree huggin’ dirt-worshiper, so it makes sense to create with that which I love.”  As a deaf artist, Sharon says,  “Creating in wood gives solid form to the music I hear in my head.”

She started working as an artist in fabric painting, mainly of wildlife and pet portraits, then expanded into stained glass mosaic work, and started carving in wood about 7 years ago, getting her inspiration from nature, wildlife, childhood, and from the faerie world.  Sharon also carves faerie houses out of logs and has exhibited them at Arbor Aid in the past. 

sharon serbin woodcarving arbor aid 2011 TreePgh: How long have you been working with wood?

Sharon: I am self-taught, and started about 7 years ago, using scraps left over from a woodcraftsman friend's projects.  My first carving I ever did was a high relief carving of a wood pecker feeding its young inside a tree.  I had long hair at the time.  90% of my carving is done with mallet and chisels, but a friend gave me a rotary tool with burrs.  Novice that I was, I caught my hair in the rotary and drilled the top of my head before I could shut it off.  (Sharon has a great sense of humor about this situation.)

In spring of 2008 I was driving down Washington Blvd and Urban Tree Forge caught my eye.  I met John Metzler, whose fire and spirit urged me to try bigger carvings, using foraged logs and burls. The very first Arbor Aid was that fall and I carved Grandmother Sycamore into a side of sycamore slab. 

In 2009 a police officer approached me asking if I could carve a memorial table for the 3 fallen officers who were killed in Stanton Heights.  I volunteered my time and talent and carved into the picnic table they used to eat at.  It is still there at Zone 5.

TreePgh: Where do you get most of your material from?

Sharon: All my material is foraged or salvaged wood.  I used to get my material from Urban Tree Forge, and later from Jason Boone who now owns and runs Pittsburgh Urban Tree. I also "treasure hunt", for fallen trees, logs, branches, etc. in woods, or along neighborhood streets. Sometimes I find great wood at The Center for Creative Reuse.  Friends and family keep their eyes open for me also. 

TreePgh: Where do you find your inspiration for the work you create? Or, how do you determine what you will make? 

Sharon: The wood talks to me.  I might find a piece that looks like a log to everyone else, but I can SEE whats below the surface, begging for help to come out.  I just help’s already there.  For Arbor Aid, I find out what the theme is, and an idea leaps into my mind and marries my imagination.  I get soooo excited not just wanting to carve it, but NEEDING to.  I also carve Yads, which are Torah pointer sticks (you are not allowed to touch a Torah script with your finger) and I create each one to order, something special for the person it is for, to match with their interests. So some of my ideas come from things they want; Tree of Life, Hamsa, Lions of Judea, Treble Clefs notes. etc.


You can find more information and photos of Sharon’s work on her facebook page, Wild Woman Creations.  She is more than willing to trade artwork, massage, or Reiki treatments to anyone willing to help her set up a website :)

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