birds

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Art

Absurdly Flexible Chicks Lunge, Twist, and Stretch into Perfect Yoga Poses

December 10, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Lucia Heffernan, shared with permission

Calm, flexible, and undeniably adorable, Lucia Heffernan’s brood of chicks would likely be the star students of any yoga class. The fluffy creatures curl into backends, contort into triangles, and stretch their feathered little bodies into warriors and dancers in perfect alignment. Heffernan is showing the lunging and twisting characters through December 15 at CODA Gallery in Palm Desert, California, and even though all originals are sold, you can still shop prints on Etsy and see the entire troupe on Instagram. You also might enjoy Bruno Pontiroli’s backache-inducing wildlife.

 

 

 



Art

Cut from Found Feathers, Minuscule Silhouettes Become Intricate Symbolic Works

December 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Gull Flight” All images © Chris Maynard, shared with permission

Equipped with surgical knives and scissors, artist Chris Maynard (previously) carefully slices exquisite silhouettes of birds, people, and tiny stars from individual feathers. He cuts the naturally shed materials, which come from private aviaries and zoos, into metaphorical scenes of change and transformation: figures hatch from eggs, a flock of seagulls flies into a perfectly round arc, and still developing chicks nestle into the barbs. “Feathers are symbols of our aspirations,” the artist tells Colossal. “Like a lot of us, I want to fly but I can’t, so I use feathers to try to capture an essence of flight.”

To see how Maynard extracts such intricate shapes, head to his Instagram where he shares more about his process and a variety of recent works.

 

“Journey”

“Acorn Woodpecker”

Top: “Worm Food.” Bottom left: “Entwine.” Bottom right: “Goodbye”

“Undulation Reflection”

“Another Creation Story”

“Embryo III Flight Training”

 

 



Photography

'Beneath the Bird Feeder' Documents the Spectacular Wildlife Visiting a Wintertime Food Source

November 24, 2021

Grace Ebert

A northern cardinal. All images licensed from Carla Rhodes

During the winter months of late 2020 into early 2021, photographer Carla Rhodes cared for a birdfeeder that hung outside of her home in the Catskills of New York. The suspended food source garnered attention from myriad cold-weather adventurers, including a brilliant northern cardinal, numerous pairs of mourning doves, and furry little field mice, who visited the area amongst the snow and frigid temperatures.

Thanks to a camera stationed nearby, Rhodes documented the curious cast of wildlife who wandered into her yard, an endeavor that culminated in the striking photographic project Beneath the Bird Feeder. Comprised of dozens of images primarily shot in low light, the series frames the unique features of the unaware animals, capturing the pearlescent wings of a tufted titmouse or the beady eye of North America’s only venomous mammal, the short-tailed shrew.

Explore more from the collection and find an array of conservation-focused images on Rhodes’s site and Instagram.

 

A tufted titmouse

Mourning doves

A black-capped chickadee

An eastern gray squirrel

An American red squirrel

A deer mouse

A northern short-tailed shrew

A northern cardinal

A dark-eyed junco

 

 



Art History Illustration Photography

A New Book Flies Through the Vast World of Birds from Art and Design to History and Ornithology

November 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

Ernst Haeckel, Trochilidae – Kolibris, from Kunstformen der Natur, 1904. Chromolithograph, 36 × 26 cm / 14 × 10 ¼ in. Picture credit: Kunstformen der Natur

Bird: Exploring the Winged World is an extensive celebration of feathered creatures across thousands of years of art, science, and popular culture. Published by Phaidon, the stunning, 352-page volume compiles works from hundreds of artists, illustrators, photographers, and designers—including Lorna Simpson (previously), Nick Cave (previously), Ernst Haeckel (previously), and Florentijn Hofman (previously)—who choose ostriches, flamingos, and other avians as their central motifs. Each spread connects two distinct works from different periods, pairing anatomical renderings with James Audubon’s illustrations and striking contemporary portraits with vintage advertisements.

In addition to hundreds of images, the forthcoming tome features an introduction by Katrina van Grouw and information about urban birding experiences and taxonomies. Copies are available from Bookshop on November 10.

 

Allen & Ginter, Birds of the Tropics, 1889. Chromolithograph, 7.3 × 8.3 cm / 2 7/8 × 3 ¼ in, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Picture credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Jefferson R.Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick

Elizabeth Butterworth, Lear’s Macaw, 2005. Gouache, ink, and pencil on paper, 25 × 34 cm / 9 ¼ × 13 3/8 in, Private collection. Picture credit: © Elizabeth Butterworth

Florentijn Hofman, Rubber Duck, 2013. PVC, H. 16.5 m / 21 ft, temporary installation, Hong Kong. Picture credit: All Rights Reserved, courtesy Studio Florentijn Hofman

Matt Stuart, Trafalgar Square, 2004. Photograph, dimensions variable. Picture credit: © Matt Stuart

John James Audubon (engraved by Robert Havell), American Flamingo, from The Birds of America, double elephant folio edition, 1838. Hand-coloured etching and aquatint, 97 × 65 cm / 38 ¼ × 25 5/8 in. Picture credit: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC: Gift of Mrs. Walter B. James

Oiva Toikka, Birds by Toikka, 1972–present. Mouth-blown glass, dimensions variable, Iittala collection. Picture credit: All rights reserved by Fiskars Finland Oy Ab/Photographer Timo Junttila, Designer Oiva Toikka

Andy Holden and Peter Holden, Natural Selection, 2018. Mixed media, Temporary installation at Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, UK. Picture credit: Andy Holden/Photograph by Alison Bettles

 

 



Animation

Dead Meat: A Pair of Hungry Seagulls Fight Over a Hotdog in a Quirky Animated Short

October 20, 2021

Grace Ebert

Selfish, hungry, and more cunning than he appears, the zany seagull in Adnan Peer Mohamed’s “Dead Meat” sends feathers flying. The animated short opens with the creature scouring a boardwalk for food, and after mistaking a bolt for a snack, he snatches an entire hotdog only to find a fellow bird is after the same sausage. Mohamed is currently a student at Vancouver Film School, and you can find more of his animations on Vimeo and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Artificial Neon Lights Illuminate the Idyllic Environments Painted by Artist Gigi Chen

October 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

“A Good Foundation” (2021), acrylic on wood, 20 x 20 inches. All images © Gigi Chen, shared with permission

In her vibrant, neon-lit paintings, artist Gigi Chen intertwines ornate jewelry, graffiti, and glowing signs emblematic of urban life with foliage, feathers, and wide expanses of sky. Her acrylic pieces center on birds and other small animals in their natural environments with surreal, manufactured additions: a heron cradles a bright pink house on its back, two rabbits peer over a bush at an illuminated parking sign, and an owl carries an old payphone across a glacial landscape.

A lifelong New Yorker, Chen tells Colossal that once her family immigrated to the U.S. from Guangdong, China, when she was eight months old, they didn’t often venture beyond the city’s confines. “The fear of not being able to communicate clearly with strangers was very prevalent growing up, and it really restrained us from doing too much traveling during my early childhood even though my parents could drive,” she says, noting that it wasn’t until an artist residency in Vermont when she was 18 that she found herself interacting with nature. “I realized how small the Big City really is. I was terrified of the pitch blackness, the dense forest, and the dirt and the bugs. But I was totally in love and overwhelmed by how sublime and random nature is.”

These early experiences continue to impact Chen’s work as she confronts lush, forest ecosystems and cloudy sunsets through the lens of city life. “The dichotomy of the neon onto natural subjects like leaves and birds and trees makes for beautiful metaphors about how people relate to the flora and fauna,” she says. “Adding artificial light sources to a natural environment helped me to reimagine and expand the kinds of stories I could tell and broaden how I could convey personal messages.”

 

“Home Away From Home Away From Home” (2021), acrylic on wood, 20 x 24 inches

Many of the animal protagonists embody the artist’s experiences particularly those in her new series Light My Way Home, which is on view through October 24 at Antler Gallery in Portland. The metaphorical works are ruminations on home, family, and the security those two provide, and the pieces often portray the artist and her sisters as red-winged blackbirds with her late mother as the blue heron. “Home Away From Home Away From Home,” which depicts the three smaller birds encircling the other as she flies away, “represents what happened after the death of my mother,” Chen says. “Here, we are seeking the sense of safety and stability that my mother once represented to us and endlessly chasing the Ideal of Home.”

In addition to Light My Way Home, Chen also has paintings available through Stone Sparrow Gallery and Deep Space Gallery, and you can follow her works on Instagram. (via Supersonic Art)

 

“Curiously Illuminated” (2021), acrylic on wood, 16 x 20 inches

“Finding A Spot” (2020), acrylic on wood, 11 x 14 inches

“Three Voices & A Song” (2021), acrylic on wood, 20 x 24 inches

“The Open Pigeon” (2020), acrylic on wood, 5 x 7 inches

“Call Me” (2021), acrylic on wood, 20 x 24 inches

“Lighting The Way” (2021), acrylic on wood, 16 x 20 inches