Posts tagged
with feathers

Art Colossal

Interview: Kate MccGwire On Discerning Duality, Connecting with Nature, and Making Art in the Belly of a Dutch Barge

February 13, 2023

Kate Mothes

Shown above is “EVACUATE” (2010), mixed-media installation with game feathers, 120 x 400 x 350 centimeters. Photo by Jonty Wilde. All images © Kate MccGwire, shared with permission

Growing up on the Norfolk Broads, a network of waterways in the eastern lobe of England that are mostly navigable by boat, Kate MccGwire explored the area’s wetlands and observed wildlife that would set in motion an artistic practice centered in nature. The artist is known for her site-specific installations and serpentine sculptures that incorporate thousands of bird feathers into otherworldly specimens that writhe, squish, and spill.

Often there is an obfuscation of what we know to be real and a shift that allows a sort of reverie and suspension of reality, and due to the convincing placement of the feathers over natural undulating forms, the impression that it could be real, that it could move, flow, and uncoil. —Kate MccGwire

MccGwire speaks in this interview about the tensions and dualities between containment and movement, attraction and revulsion, and nature and the self.

Read the interview.


“LIMINAL” (2019), mixed media with goose feathers in a bespoke cabinet, 76 x 57 x 50 centimeters. Photo by JP Bland





Metamorphosis and History Merge in Meticulously Carved Sculptures by Andreas Senoner

November 9, 2022

Kate Mothes

A sculpture by Andreas Senoner of two figures covered in white feathers.

“Origins,” walnut and feathers. All images © Andreas Senoner, shared with permission

Seemingly transfixed in time during a mysterious process of transformation, Andreas Senoner’s mixed-media sculptures capture expressive details in human figures and gestures. “I focus my research on a series of main themes, including metamorphosis, heritage, and stratification,” he tells Colossal. The Florence-based artist explores layers of history by working with materials that are rich in cultural significance, incorporating textures like thorns or spikes, insect-bored timber, or saturated paint that induces tension.

Senoner carefully forms the contours of muscles and limbs in response to the natural grain of each piece of wood, and works can take several weeks to complete. “The essence of the wood also has a strong influence; a walnut sculpture, for example, takes twice as long as one made of lime wood,” he explains. Intricately detailed, life-like body parts sprout thorns, mimic a felled tree, or appear from beneath a cocoon-like cloak of organic material. Many reference figures from classical art history in another nod to the passing of time.

“Feathers have a very strong symbolism, and they are an integral part of rituals and celebrations in many cultures, where they represent lightness and freedom,” he tells Colossal. The feathers create layers, “like an intangible and delicate skin or shell that still is able to confine and shield the represented individual from the outside world.” Contrasting textures and associations of materials like ancient walnut, beeswax, or lichen parallels his interest in the dualities of interior and exterior experiences.

Senoner is currently working toward exhibitions in early 2023 in Italy and Belgium, and you can find more on his website and Instagram.


A sculpture by Andreas Senoner of a hand with thorns coming out of the fingers.

“Fear,” walnut

A sculpture by Andreas Senoner of a foot with thorns coming out of it.

“Fragment,” walnut

A sculpture by Andreas Senoner of a figure covered in white and yellow feathers.

“Mask (moulting),” walnut and feathers

A sculpture by Andreas Senoner of a bust with insect-bored wood.

“Nature doesn’t care,” ancient walnut

A sculpture by Andreas Senoner of a bust with insect-bored wood.

“Nature doesn’t care”

Two images of sculptures by Andreas Senoner featuring two arms connected in a U-shape with feathers, and two figures with red legs wearing white feathers.

:eft: “Shapeshifter,” walnut and feathers. Right: Rear view of “Origins”

A torso and lower legs on its side made out of wood by Andreas Senoner.

“Regrowth,” painted walnut

A sculpture by Andreas Senoner of two figures whose legs are sticking out of a covering made of green lichen.

“Origins,” wood and lichen




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

August 5, 2022


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.





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.



“Acorn Woodpecker”

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

“Undulation Reflection”

“Another Creation Story”

“Embryo III Flight Training”