sketchy characters: the key tree

i have always loved the idea of repurposing things to become something completely new. for example, the complex i live in used to be a beer brewery, but the visible pipes and concrete walls were left to hint at the building’s past life, and i love that. it has been given a completely new purpose and identity, yet hasn’t been transformed entirely so that it can still hold onto its roots.

a little while ago i roamed into my very talented neighbor’s loft, and this piece really struck me:

possibilitree. sean sobczak

it was a wire sculpture tree with keys (old, donated, or simply found) dangling like leaves. to me, there’s a sense of vulnerability when i see an abandoned key: whatever it was supposed to keep exclusive, safe, or hidden is now subject to exposure. these keys no longer serve to secure anything – they are now part of this sculpture. they’re in their original form, but are they still keys?

that was the inspiration for this story. (no accompanying drawing this time, haha)


fred, a curious young boy, found what looked to be a key on the ground. he wondered what would happen if he planted it. and so he did – and after several weeks of watering and care, a wire tree emerged from the ground, bearing tiny identical keys on its branches like fruit. 

news of this magic key tree spread rapidly, and people from all over the world gathered to see it in person. the boy generously gave each visitor a key, as the tree was constantly producing them. everyone had their own ideas of what the key opened: a secret door? hidden treasure? the possibilities were endless.
over the next few years, people searched for the lock the key opened, but to no success. these once excited and hopeful people had turned bitter and hateful.
“how is it possible that no one has found what the key opens!,” they cried. “these keys are completely useless!”
to which the boy replied, “oh, are these keys?”
they stared at him. “yes, what else would they be?”
“anything at all.”
and once everyone had stopped their narrow search for that one elusive lock, they saw the limitless possibilites of what the object they were holding could be.

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