After Audobon (series) 2009
This series of collages reflects upon the history of ornithology as an artful science that mingles human adoration of birds with deadly observational methods. The artist and hunter, John James Audubon (1785-1851) is seen as the 'father' of American ornithology. Audubon used a combination of fine shot, stuffing, wire and paint to bring his birds, though death, to life on paper. Making reference as well to the ways that the Audubon drawings, and many imitators, have filtered into popular visual culture, the series is also a personal reflection on the many startling capacities of birds. Their domestic architecture is remarkably complex and syncretic, making use of human-made objects as well as natural materials. Their song is a beautiful but often ignored part of everyday life in dense cities. Birds' capacity to learn music and skills is well-documented (canaries can learn up to 600 songs, while many birds sew and weave). The overlaps between human and bird worlds, in culture, history and art, is complex and often difficult. The collages in this series attempt to open a visual, rhetorical space for that overlap.