feathers

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Art

Division of Birds: A Group Show at Paradigm Gallery Celebrates Feathered Life

August 5, 2022

Colossal

Felicia Chiao. All images © the artists, shared with permission

The Division of Birds, housed inside Chicago’s Field Museum, boasts one of the largest scientific avian collections in the country, representing about 90% of the world’s genera and species and containing more than 480,000 specimens, 21,000 egg sets, and approximately 200 nests. A group show opening this month at Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia references this unparalleled archive in a celebration of feathered life.

Curated by Colossal’s founder and editor-in-chief Christopher Jobson, Division of Birds is comprised of dozens of works in a range of styles and mediums. The show includes avian creatures both real and imagined and a vast array of aesthetics, from a trio of paper sculptures by Roberto Benavidez and Felicia Chiao’s emotionally charged illustrations to Lola Dupré’s collaged roosters and a three-dimensional nest embroidered by Megan Zaniewski.

Division of Birds runs from August 26 to September 18.

 

Lola Dupré

Megan Zaniewski

Chris Maynard

Mike Stilkey

Megan Zaniewski

 

 



Art Craft

Realistic Bird Busts and Portraits Slot Pieces of Wood into Jigsaw-Like Sculptures

July 18, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © T.A.G. Smith, shared with permission

Similar to the decorative art of marquetry, intarsia involves compressing cut pieces of wood into a tight, solid structure. Because of the size of the components, the latter technique produces more three-dimensional forms that tend to be fastened with dabs of glue.

British artist T.A.G. Smith employs this assemblage method when sculpting his small bird busts, portraits, and single feathers encased in boxes. Each piece begins with a digital rendering, followed by Smith carving shapes from myriad types of wood, allowing the color and grain of the materials to determine its placement in the final form. The resulting sculptures, which Smith likens to a jigsaw puzzle, combine anywhere from six to more than 600 individual pieces into sleek, realistic depictions of eagles, hawfinches, and puffins.

Currently, the artist is adding to his series of bird portraits, and you can follow his progress on Instagram, where he also shares information about works available for purchase on Etsy.

 

 

 



Art Craft

Vibrant Embroideries by Hillary Waters Fayle Enhance the Natural Beauty of Preserved Leaves

March 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

Photos by David Hunter Hale, © Hillary Waters Fayle, shared with permission

Favoring thread and found materials, Richmond-based artist Hillary Waters Fayle (previously) works at the intersection of textile traditions and botany. “Stitching, like horticulture, can be functional,” she says, “a technical solution to join materials/a means of survival. Or, both can be done purely in service of the soul, lifting the spirit through beauty and wonder.”

Fayle’s practice embodies this sentiment with elaborate and colorful embroideries applied to dried leaves. Lined with brown edges, the perfectly preserved surfaces become more fragile as they age, and the threaded embellishments enhance the relationship between the natural and fabricated. “There is a sense of magic in being able to work with such an unexpected and exquisite material,” the artist says. “The tension in the thread, the type of stitching, the needle, the species, and the season are just some of the factors that may influence what happens.” Recent pieces include ornate networks in blue on ginkgo, floral motifs on eucalyptus, and red dots on golden leaves.

This summer, Fayle’s works will be on view at Quirk Gallery in Charlottesville, Virginia, and this fall at Asheville’s Momentum Gallery. Until then, explore more of her stitched works, in addition to leafy cutouts and large-scale murals, on Instagram.

 

 

 



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

Raptors In Flight: Striking Portraits by Mark Harvey Frame Birds of Prey on the Hunt

September 29, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Golden Eagle.” All images © Mark Harvey, shared with permission

Following his portraits of acrobatic birds performing a series of stunts, photographer Mark Harvey turns his focus to the larger, more powerful creatures of the avian species. The new collection, titled Raptors In Flight, centers on birds of prey and their graceful movements while on the hunt. Whether framing a barn owl diving to the ground or a harris hawk splaying its wings, each of the images highlights the raptors’ unique physical features, making the individual details of their feathers, curved beaks, and eyes visible.

Shot with his signature style that applies a hearty dose of drama to the already striking creatures, the photos are shot one at a time in a slow, medium format. “Lighting is a key aspect of my work to help draw out fresh views of well-known subjects, and these birds are no exception, set within an intricate lighting setup to ultimately show the birds in a new light,” Harvey shares. “With their wings spread wide, these top avian predators’ beauty is put on full display.”

Harvey just released 15 limited-edition prints of each subject in his shop, and you can follow his photography practice, which often focuses on horses and dogs, on Instagram.

 

“Barn Owl”

“Great Grey Owl”

“Snowy Owl”

“Eagle Owl”

“Snowy Owl”

“Harris Hawk”

 

 



Art

Abstract Clusters of Feathers Ruffle Across Vibrant New Murals by Adele Renault

June 4, 2021

Grace Ebert

Artscape, Sweden. All images © Adele Renault, shared with permission

Belgian artist Adele Renault (previously) has an unparalleled ability to turn an urban nuisance into an extraordinarily beautiful creature. Her oversized pigeons grace walls in cities around the world, creating public artworks that celebrate her favored subjects in the exact locations they’re often overlooked and disregarded.

A few years ago, Renault began what she calls “wandering in the macro world,” a venture that shifted her focus to the individual feathers she’s always found most alluring. “The texture is more dazzling and intriguing than showing the whole thing,” she says. “The feathers have become my own language in a way. I now create them without photo reference, more like a meditative practice that creates textures and softness as a result.” Her murals have since strayed from portraying full birds to focusing instead on clusters of plumes and the individual barbs that sprout in layers and tufts.

Although Renault is dedicated to realistic forms, her more recent artworks play with color, injecting bright rainbow hues where she previously focused on naturally occurring blues and purples. The vibrant feathers radiate with an oily, iridescent sheen and appear to ruffle on the wall, a trompe-l’œil effect she achieves by meticulously coating either oil or spray paint to create depth and shadow.

A few of Renault’s smaller works on canvas are on view at Moberg Gallery in Des Moines through the end of June, and she’s currently preparing for a solo show in Belgium that’ll feature her Plantasia series, which similarly extracts minuscule details from leaves. You can find out more about her practice in Gutter Paradise, which was published late last year, and follow her on Instagram to stay up-to-date with her latest projects.

 

New Brighton, UK (2021)

Northwest Walls, Werchter (2019). Photo by Dan Verbruggen-Ausilio

“Gutter Paradise 11” (2019)

Right: Silverlake (2019). Photo by Asato Iida

Urban Art Fair Paris. Photo by Alex Geoffrey

London, Maryland. Photo by Marian Medic

La Brea, Los Angeles (2021)