mixed media installation, 2011, 2012
Created as a site-specific installation, this work uses the metaphor of bird shadows to examine presence and absence and our relationship to ecological change. The installation consists of nearly 100 encaustic birds suspended and lit by a full spectrum lighting system. Coating bird-forms with encaustic wax seemed to be a process familial to embalming; encasing something fragile and beautiful to retain its sense of endurance.
Exploring the metaphorical implication of using the birds’ shadows as subject matter, it became necessary to bring the work off the wall and utilize the entirety of the gallery space. The majority of birds are suspended from hand-crafted mobiles, while a few remain static and are adhered directly to the wall. Motion, created by visitor’s movements and an artificial wind system, kept the birds and their shadows in motion, making them appear to be in constant flight. The shadows are more prominent than the actual birds, bringing attention to the interplay between the object and its fleeting presence.The changing temperature of the lights, moving through the spectrum of a day or season, created a sense of time passing. An audio component corresponds to the time loop of the lights.
Work by Louise Mackie of the architectural team Warmbaby can be viewed in the background of some photos, while in others, bird shadows interact with the architectural structures she created during part of our corresponding artist residencies.
Throughout the creation of this work, I sought to retain a sense of jewel-like beauty as I created the birds, renewal within the process of decay, the appearance of something fleeting but not yet lost. I increasingly thought of my mother who painted birds and wistful, fleeting landscapes throughout her lifetime, paying homage to her with this shared theme.