Artist Profile: Justin Freed


Written By Amanda Herzog­­

Freed Portrait

Justin Freed has transformed Boston’s Galatea Fine Art into a semi-black box theatre. The artist’s stunningly crisp and textured photographs of trees from across the eastern seaboard are paired with projected videos and hundreds of rotating photographs. Freed’s large scale photographs printed on metal engulf the walls of the gallery and confront us on an earnest scale, similar to the object themselves. Hundreds of digital images and videos are simultaneously projected on two transparent free hanging screens that hang from the ceiling, are visible on both sides, and occupy the center of the room. The work is accompanied by personal narrative and the music of his friend, Grammy award winning composer, Maria Schneider. Sacred Tree Habitat creates an all-encompassing experience of taking a walk in the forest within the confines of the gallery. Freed compares his Sacred Tree Habitat, his chapel, to Henri Matisse’s Chappelle du Rosaire de Vence. Much like Matisse, Freed combines the spiritual with the artistic, working to engage all of the senses.

Version 2Everything Connects by Justin Freed

He states, “We are led by a deeper truth than in our less attentive moments. I believe in cellular memory. Why not? We share 25% of our DNA with trees…afterwards I can wonder how or why I did that. What drew me? The trees drew me, that’s who. This is the delight of doing art. This is how I affirm that life has meaning. For that I am grateful. And it gets deeper the older I grow. Especially the understanding that trees are sacred. Honoring that belief is the only thing that can save us.”

Freed recreates the Japanese act of forest bathing or biophilia in this installation. Biophilia describes a love of life and the living world, a biological need to connect to nature. In 1984, Dr. Edward O. Wilson defined biophilia as “The innate sense of belonging to the natural world.” Biophilia’s philosophy is based on the concept that humans have an innate inner connection with nature and that this connection is essential for their mental, physical and spiritual well-being.  Justin Freed has a deep connection to nature, a connection that is rare in a world where nature is often viewed through a car window or on a computer screen saver. In a recent conversation with Freed he discussed his work habits and his introduction to the archival pleasures of Instagram.

Version 2Weeping Beach By Justin Freed

“It doesn’t have to be woods. Of course that is the deepest place for me. But there are trees everywhere. Trees surround me in my bedroom; I call it my tree house. I couldn’t live in a treeless place. 

Just walking in my neighborhoods, Brookline, Sarasota, Truro, any place I go, I find things that I need to preserve. This can make it hard for the people I am with!

I always have a camera with me and regret it when I forget. On any walk I take there might be some aspect of a landscape or a close-up that I need to document and make into art.

If I haven’t photographed for a day or two (rare) I don’t feel okay.

That is when I feel most whole and alive. The moments are precious to me. 

But I take these moments very seriously. They matter, what we experience and chronicle defines us, I believe. They are the choices we make, often unconsciously.”

Freed_Trees_in_WaterTrees In Water By Justin Freed

Freed refers to this exhibition as his epitaph. He has constructed his personal mythology visually through the lens of his camera during his daily walks in the woods. Freed feels complete on these walks and he is seldom without his camera. He photographs the life cycle of trees. He is drawn to their stories, their roots and the spaces where they intertwine. Each photo captures his awe of nature and the secret conversations between trees. Freed is drawn to dead trees, uprooted trees and finds the organic design of trees to be beautiful and poignant. His goal is to have people experience the sacred life and death cycle of trees as a mirror for our human experience on earth. So put down your iPhone and take a walk in the woods through Justin Freed’s lens and see your stress level vanish and your love of nature fueled.

Justin Freed’s multimedia solo show Sacred Tree Habitat, is on view at Galatea Fine Arts  November 2 through December 2, 2018. Justin Freed is a multimedia artist working in photography, video and sculpture.  He has had an 82-year love affair with water and trees. Sacred Tree Habitat is a show about reverence, awe and healing.

Visit Galatea Fine Art at 460 Harrison Avenue, #B-6, Boston, MA 02118, 617-542-1500. Gallery hours Wednesday-Sunday 12-5pm and by appointment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s