Most artists dedicate their lives to creating their works. And for Seattle-based artist John Grade, he dove into a solo expedition north of the Arctic Circle to create his latest piece.

The 20-foot “Arctic Tree” sculpture currently hangs inside of the recently opened men’s Nordstrom’s store in Manhattan, and Esquire published a piece with Grade to get a feel for how this project all came together.

Grade started out by getting dropped off by a propeller plane, then he paddled a raft about 80 miles downriver in the northern expanses of Alaska, then trekked across the tundra to a grove of cottonwood trees growing about 100 miles north of where the species is supposed to be able to survive (which is about 200 miles above the Arctic Circle).

Once there, he protected the tree with plastic and foil so he could create a cast of it out of gauze and plaster. But the work was not done yet, as Esquire points out it was then “A few (hundred) more miles of trekking, paddling and flying, and he was able to recreate the shape in 150-year-old reclaimed western red cedar along with his 21-member studio.”

Grade has undertaken plenty of art projects like this one, and has become quite adept at trekking into the Arctic to see them through. And for him, it’s all about getting people to experience something they might not otherwise – which in turn, will hopefully help them feel the need to protect it.

“I definitely feel a sense of responsibility when you’re in this wonderful position to go to these fragile places,” he told Esquire. “I think for me, if I simply awaken your interest in these places and maybe a desire to even go there or at least learn more about them, then I think I’ve done my job.”

John Grade trekking through the Arctic tundra.

h/t Esquire

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