In the summer of 2013, Chicago artist George Keaton and photographer Mariah Naella were preparing for their engagement party in Wisconsin when they made a seemingly insignificant discovery that would soon dramatically impact their life. Repairmen who were replacing old window frames in their apartment had quietly left something on their kitchen counter: a tiny egg. The workers had inadvertently destroyed a pigeon nest while fixing windows and randomly decided to salvage the egg.
The couple tells the Chicago Sun Times that in the process of discarding the egg outside, Naella realized something was moving inside of it. Within minutes—and to their great astonishment—it almost immediately began to hatch. Late that night the couple purchased a small syringe at Walgreens to use for feeding, and the next few weeks were dedicated to rearing a peppy little pigeon they named Camp.
Two months later, following advice from a wildlife expert, they decided Camp was large enough to release into the wild, but upon opening the window they discovered he was completely uninterested in leaving. Camp has since become accustomed to flying near their Lincoln Square home, and is free to come and go as he pleases, but has never traveled far and always returns home. The pigeon is now a part of the family, and has become a bit of a local celebrity whose daily adventures are shared on Instagram. He’s even spawned an entire line of prints, jewelry, and and shirts.
On learning about Camp’s story randomly through Instagram, Belgian painter Adele Renault realized she had a new muse. Renault is known for her large-scale photorealistic portraits of people and pigeons, and it wasn’t long before she began documenting the Chicago bird’s adventures in lockstep with Naella and Keaton. A selection of her giant oil on linen paintings depicting Camp during several stages of his life will be on view starting tomorrow at Havas Annex in Chicago. (via Colossal Submissions)