Fact Check

Earth Angels

Published Oct. 12, 2015


FACT CHECK:   Does a photograph show a tree "swallowing" a sculpture of a green man?

Claim:   A photograph shows a tree "swallowing" a statue of a green man.


Examples:     [Collected via Reddit, October 2015]

This tree grew over a statue, making it look as if there is a green man trapped inside.

Origins:   On 11 October 2015, a post on Reddit renewed interest in a photograph purportedly showing a statue of a green man seemingly being "swallowed" by a tree. While this image has been posted under a variety of titles on a wide range of web sites, details about who created the sculpture, when it was created, and where it is located are often missing from such postings.

As with another well-traveled photograph of chairs in a forest, what is pictured here is real, but it is a deliberately created artwork and not something that formed solely by the random encroachment of nature on an inanimate object. The above-displayed image shows an "Earth Angel," a series of sculptures by artist Thomas Baugh, found at Young's Vineyard in California. Annette Young confirmed the location of the sculpture and its creator in an e-mail to us:

These sculptures are called "Earth Angels" and are created and made by Thomas Baugh. His studio is called Seabreeze Sculpture Studio and is located in Pine Grove CA."

The claim that the photograph shows a tree "swallowing" a sculpture of a green man is also somewhat misleading, as Baugh's "Earth Angels" are just facial casts and do not have bodies:

While living in Oakland 15 years ago, Baugh stumbled onto what would become his most successful calling-card as an artist — his "earth angels." Baugh says the series was born from practicing some new skills as a stone-cutter. "It was strange," Baugh recalled. "I'd conceived of a full bust, but once I'd done the face I wasn't really sure where the rest of it was going. I kind of just threw it aside and started something else. A few weeks later I just looked at the face again and realized it was already done."

Although the tree in this image is not actually "swallowing" a life-sized sculpture of a man, it does depict a tree absorbing a facial sculpture. Three photographs of this sculpture (the first taken in 2009, the second in 2013, and the last in 2014) show Baugh's "Earth Angel" slowly disappearing beneath the tree's bark:

Last updated:   12 October 2015

Originally published:   12 October 2015

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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