The Tree of Knowledge in Roswell focuses is crafted of metal leaves encompassing powerful words. Photograph courtesy of Susan Wink.
RISING NEARLY 18 FEET in front of the Roswell Public Library, the Tree of Knowledge mixed-media sculpture pays tribute to all things literary. A canopy of crafted metal leaves tops it. Some twist to form words like “imagine” and “read.” Nearly 3,000 ceramic tiles wrap around its trunk, a mosaic of “bark” engraved with authors’ names, book titles, quotations, and evocative words. Volunteers from throughout the eastern New Mexico city inscribed the messages—the brainchild of artist Susan Wink. She lived in Roswell in 2006, during a celebration of the library’s centennial. “People rely on the library,” Wink says. “It really is a star feature of that community.” So is her sculpture. People flock to a bench at its base, inspecting and sometimes touching the bark tiles. The words and phrases are in English, Navajo, Korean, German, and other languages. “I like to sit in a different place each time,” says Melinda González, a board member of the library support group that helped spearhead the project. “You think you’ve seen everything on the tree, but you really haven’t.”
Tree of Knowledge stands outside the Roswell Public Library, 301 N. Pennsylvania Ave.