There’s Nothing Sinister About Those Faceless Willow Tree Sculptures

DJV writes: “I received two Willow Tree Sculptures as gifts and am concerned that these may be New Age items. The description on the box of these sculptures reads “Willow Tree is an intimate line of figurative sculptures that speak in quiet ways to heal, comfort, protect,…May the simplicity of these figures communicate peace and serenity to you and those you love. Susan Lordi.” These sculptures are mostly angels and are found in many stores including our Catholic Hospital. Please let me know if these are New Age items as I do do not want to own or purchase new age items.”

You are not the first person to wonder about these little faceless creations that so many of us have received as gifts on special occasions. However, I’m happy to report that there is nothing New Age about them.

These sculptures were created by Susan Lordi of Kansas City, Missouri, and says her inspiration comes from a love of family, friends and nature.

When asked why her figurines have no faces, she responded:

“This ties into the viewer becoming more of a participant in the understanding of the piece. It makes it more personal for the giver and the receiver to envision what or whom they want. At the time I created Willow Tree, I had never seen it done before, except for my knowledge of Amish women who would sew dolls for their children. Because of their religion, they did not embellish the faces; I loved the simplicity and pureness of the way those dolls looked. It’s the perfect example of ‘less is more’ – what is missing can speak volumes. Simplicity of form is one of my guidelines.”

She claims her personal background has had a lot of influence on her creativity and the designs of her sculptures.

“Growing up in a very huggy, extended Italian family; being a granddaughter, daughter, mother; giving birth. A supportive family. Experiencing healing. I think I craved doing something with the expressive power of the human gesture,” she said.

“For me, it’s always been easier to communicate or express my feelings visually rather than verbally. That’s what I want to do with Willow Tree. Give people a way to express an emotion or feeling that goes beyond words.”

Personal observation has also been a source of inspiration for her. 

“Observing the human form, observing. Conversations, emotions, letters, stories, memories. Life experiences, crying, laughing really hard, loving, motherhood. My sisters. My children, my husband, my parents. True friends. My cat. Years of studying and drawing and observing. My children, nieces, nephews and friends have been the models for Willow Tree figures.”

Why are they named Willow Tree?

“The name Willow Tree directly reflects my love and reverence of trees; their graceful, columnar, beckoning, magical qualities,” she said. “They have so much character and gesture. Trees are anthropomorphic—they possess human qualities. I carved a tree, a prayer as a metaphor for these ‘tree-like’ qualities we all aspire to: strength, beauty and peace. I love Willow Trees in particular as they are self-healing; they bend with the wind…”

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