Monday, March 19, 2007

75 Get Nude To Save UC Berkeley Stadium Trees

A Bay Area photographer staged a nude photo shoot of about 75 models Saturday among threatened oak trees slated to be removed on the University of California, Berkeley campus to make way for a new stadium.

Jack Gescheidt of San Francisco creates portraits of trees and unclothed people togeher as part of an ongoing series called "The Tree Spirit Project."

"Humans are drawn to trees, they are important to us in ways that can be difficult to describe in words," Gescheidt said. "My work is all about recognizing and capturing the power of that connection."

Media attention to the controversy over replacing the aging Memorial Stadium on the campus drew Gescheidt to try a new composition at the Memorial Oak Grove, he said.

"I am drawn to this grove as a subject because as our cities grow, the small green spaces we have left become more and more precious resources," Gescheidt said. "I think the struggle to preserve these oak trees is a clear result of that."

Activist Doug Buckwald said Berkeley police officers warned the participants that citations and arrests could follow if they carried out the photo shoot. However, no one who participated was arrested, he said.

About six protesters have been living in the trees since Dec. 2, protesting the school's plan to cut down the oak grove and build a $125 million sports training facility.

The protesters have said they'll stay in the trees until they are forcibly removed.

Several groups have sued to stop the construction project, and a judge issued a preliminary injunction last month preventing the university from breaking ground or removing any trees. A trial is expected later this year.

© CBS Broadcasting Inc.

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