[Art] Series Statement – Resurrecting Audubon’s Birds of America
John James Audubon Birds of America is the depiction of birds that is heralded as some of the most natural and life‐like images of bird life and their habitat.
Based on John James Audubon Birds of America…
His rich, visually compelling works are historic and illustrative masterpieces, making them the icons for anything from wildlife conservation efforts to museum collections and exhibits. What is rarely discussed, however, is the actual process behind creating these images. All the illustrated birds were first killed, then positioned and wired to highlight their aesthetics favorably from an illustrator’s perspective.
Herein is an opportunity to delve further into these iconic works from a new perspective.
When viewing art, it is relatively easy to appreciate the artist and their vision on a basic level, particularly for historical works like that of Audubon, a known and respected birder and illustrator. If one were to look at these pieces in a new way, or through a slightly different medium, the discussion becomes much more rich, frank and honest. My goal is to do just this. By focusing on the iconic works of Audubon, I seek to recreate them in a new light where we can explore the contradictions behind this artist, his process, his subjects, and what that says about the essence of our relationship to birds and nature.
My intent is to recreate a selection of John James Audubon Birds of America using zoological specimens. Each piece would use unpreserved samples of each bird shaped to match the poses found on each plate. Additional details such as vegetation, nests, and foodstuffs would be included to ensure continuity and depth found in the original pieces.
Currently I have worked with a variety of locations to document over 130 species of birds. USFW licensed wildlife centers are legally allowed to posses these animals and in order to follow federal law, I can only collaborate with them on species that cannot be possessed (which all fall into the Migratory Bird Act and Endangered Species Act)
The following facilities invited me to photograph at their facilities:
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science
- University of Colorado Natural History Museum
- Seedskedee National Wildlife Refuge
- The National Eagle Repository
Additional specimens have been loaned by licensed hunters who were kind enough to loan me specimens.