The Healing Tree is a large public sculpture located in the courtyard of the Art Station in Hazard, KY. This sculpture was created by children and community members throughout Perry County during the COVID-19 Pandemic to honor beloved family and community members, both living and departed. Additional leaves will soon be added in response to the catastrophic floods of 2022. Forged by hundreds of hands and shaped by our memories and hopes, this collaborative project recognizes individual and collective hardships while celebrating community, diversity, resilience, and growth.

The Healing Tree sculpture is the product of a broader community project in which Partners for Rural Impact Teaching Artists visited every school in the Hazard Independent and Perry County school districts in the spring of 2022, to support young people in reflecting on pandemic experiences with a healing-centered lens. An additional community event engaged the broader public as well. Through writing, drawing, spoken word, and by shaping the diverse array of metal leaves that now make up the tree’s foliage, participants honored loved ones who had passed as well as loved ones who help to carry us onward. Before the sculpture was completed, we were hit by yet another community-wide trauma – catastrophic flooding – which delayed production and led the project to take on new layers of meaning for many involved. New leaves will honor those who passed in the floods, as well as those who are galvanizing our recovery.

This project was supported in part by federal Promise Neighborhood funds from the U.S. Department of Education, an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, numerous volunteers, and the following partners: Lead artists Meritt Conley, Nicole Garneau, Bob Montgomery, and Jill Robertson, Appalachian Arts Alliance, City of Hazard, Hazard Independent Schools, Hazard Technical and Community College, Hickory Hill Recovery Center, Partners for Rural Impact, and Perry County Schools.