Trees rescued from cutting by becoming art

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A woodcarver is transforming standing dead trees into works of art.

Artist Marlin Miller is helping sea life thrive along U.S. 90 in Biloxi. Taking oaks and cypress trees marked for cutting, he created a 10-foot-tall sea horse.

A nest of egrets rose from a tree on western Beach Boulevard.

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Over the weekend, Miller hoped to finish a pelican, marlin and other carvings — perhaps even an elk head in the tree across from the Elk’s Lodge.

He had to check the tree on that last request, e-mailed to him by the city. He wasn’t sure Mother Nature planned an elk at that location. “I just open them up after she’s already put them there,” he said.

The sculpture will be a gift to Biloxi and the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Miller said so many Mississippians came to his hometown of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., when it was hit by a hurricane that he wanted to repay the favor after Hurricane Katrina.

Miller had planned to load up his family and help the coast recover but never had the opportunity. Instead, he decided to create sculptures along the beach.

The new sculptures add to a collection of art done by Dayton Scoggins of Sandersville who was commissioned by Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway to use his chain saw to carve egrets, pelicans, fish and dolphins from the dead trees east of the Biloxi Lighthouse. The city paid him $1,000 a day for his work.