Ad Astra II
Monticello Tulipwood Poplar
Oil Finish
11"h x 9"dia.

Historical wood from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate:

Working with wood from the tree believed to have been planted by Thomas Jefferson
himself was a challenge aesthetically for appropriately honoring its historical significance.  
For this piece, I chose to focus and honor Jefferson’s creative and intellectual genius, the
effects of which I’m sure this tree had “witnessed” many times in its young life when
Jefferson resided at Monticello.  Jefferson’s genius was eloquently understated by President
John F. Kennedy in 1962 at a White House dinner honoring 49 Nobel Laureates, when he
said, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that
has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when
Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

The “star” design element in the piece represents an important symbol of early America,
familiar to everyone.  It is also used to suggest one of Jefferson’s scientific interests—
astronomy.  As such, the star has made the connection for me with respect to Jefferson’s
immense contribution to the founding of our country, and my admiration of his scientific
genius.  The design of the stars and raised “stripes” emphasize movement: (1) as you would
typically see in a flag's constantly changing shape in the wind, and (2) astronomically (one
of Jefferson's scientific interests), with stars "swirling" in the sky throughout the night,
which undoubtedly Jefferson often gazed upon above Monticello.

As the author of the Declaration of Independence, and an architect of the newly formed
American Republic, Jefferson realized the immense difficulties that were in store for this
young country.  The title, Ad Astra II (to the stars), is then perhaps a metaphor for the
genius of Jefferson, who voiced—seemingly more than anyone else—the aspirations of a
new republic.
The Gallery of J. Paul Fennell Woodturning Art