Birds are some of our best and most creative architects, and the homes they design and build are both simple (one bedroom) and complex (think crochet) – each one a unique beauty. Once summer arrives, the baby birds fledge and the little homemakers abandon their constructions. What remains are twiggy remembrances of the families raised there – the empty nests.
Fascinated by the amazingly intricate hands-free weaving done by birds and by the great variety of styles, I began making nest portraits, continuing until my own house was overtaken by these shedding little baskets. While it is a federal felony (I repeat, felony) to take or collect or have a wild bird nest, sometimes a nest is already at loose ends and needs a caretaker. My arborist brought me several as trees were trimmed. I found some on eBay and Craigslist, others were for sale in local shops, and a dear friend sent one from Nancy, France. According to the Ornithology Department at UC Berkeley, it is nearly impossible to ID which nest belongs to which bird. One must see THE bird actually making THE nest in order to make a true ID. The same species may make similar style nests but each may vary according to the materials available. Different species may make very similar nests. Frequently birds inhabit a nest abandoned by another species. Apartment living is not unknown, where a double-decker may be made by the bird who lives upstairs while another species entirely may move into the lower unit. Originally I had thought I would title these portraits by the name of their builder but after learning this would not work, fanciful names emerged. The one flown from France is naturally called Air France, while round Roulette fell out of a tree and landed on a friend sitting by a pool in Las Vegas. A la Curtis reminded me of an Indian basket Edward Curtis could have photographed and Dog Fur Cup was found lying in my yard, lined with the long, white fur of my dog. (Not all shown here.)
The results of this project are these sepia-toned pigment print photo portraits – each 15×15 inches (image size) on fine-art watercolor paper. There are 24 images in the series made between 2002 and 2007 priced at $400 and a new group of five (5) images made in a limited edition of 5 copies each at $450. All prints are signed. No prints will be made in the future. This is IT.
A home for your home might be a nice idea … especially as we become more “nesters” ourselves.
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