Divergent Fates

Lilly Luft, Sophia Hermann & Lisdon Brannon, “Divergent Fates”
Mentor: Yevgeniya Kaganovich, Art & Design

Divergent Fates is a project that builds on professor Kaganovich’s long standing research interests in materiality, ecology, and human impact on the environment. The focus of the research is on the ways in which trees are modified by humans with particular interest in three specific possible fates; continuing to be a tree, becoming paper, and becoming a chair and reinterpreting those fates through objects of physical speculative fiction. The project has involved a wide range of exploration of these possible fates and the ways they can reinterpret one another, asking and answering questions like “Can paper remember being a tree?” and “Can a tree intuit the existence of a chair?” through a wide range of methods. The research includes developing and adapting new processes for realizing the answers to these questions. Some example processes include building custom machines for reverse engineering logs out of paper, developing multi year agressive grafting routines for bending and grafting trees into facsimile chairs, and using woodworking techniques to create fractally repeating chair structures. These speculative objects have been in multiple exhibitions, such as the 2020 Museum of Wisconsin Artists Biennial in West Bend, Wisconsin, Cartography of Desire at St. Catherine University Galleries in St. Paul, Minnesota, 10 Wisconsin Sculptors at the UWM Union Art Gallery, and WOW-Women at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Divergent Fates: tree intuits chair project is currently in development on site at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


  1. Lilly Luft, Sophia Hermann & Lisdon Brannon,
    I’ve been following this project for over two years, and LOVE the concept. I’m impressed by the “ground you’ve covered” (sorry if that was cringey). I remember visiting Yevgeniya’s studio and you were completing initial tests. You’ve come so far! Congratulations!! I look forward to seeing the work as it grows at Lynden! HIgh-5s, Jessica

  2. Dear Lilly, Sophia, Lisdon, and Yevgeniaya,

    this presentation really does a great job of distilling this far-ranging project into a compelling story! I am excited to see how the work unfolds!

  3. BEAUTIFUL research project! I loved the questions you are answering and your interpretation. I also appreciate how you shared your process.

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