Monday, September 07, 2020

Three Birds Flew Into a Window (and I Mourned), a mini art quilt

(Above:  Three Birds Flew into the Window [and I Mourned], 12" x 12" mini art quilt featuring three dead waxwings posed on a bed of ivy.  Click on either image to enlarge.)

It's been nearly a decade since these three cedar waxwings flew into the large, floor-to-ceiling window of a small print shop.  The print shop was part of the same large warehouse in which my studio was located.  It was shocking to come across dead birds on the concrete sidewalk.  It was worst that it happened several times that week.  At least seven or eight birds died ... apparently having dipped their beaks in early fermenting local berries and getting too drunk to fly right.  Such a shame!  Such beautiful little creatures!  Such a reminder of the dangers in the world, the dangers of traveling while intoxicated, and how precious life really is.

(Above:  Reverse side of the mini art quilt.)

I posed the dead birds on a nearby bed of ivy.  My artistic mentor, Stephen Chesley (whose studio was also there), took one and gently used it to make several gyotaku-like ink prints on delicate rice paper.  Ordinarily, fish are used for this form of printmaking but a cedar waxwing actually works too.  The resulting images captured movement and the mystery of flight.  I should have made one too (or at least talked Stephen out of one he made!) but didn't.  These many years later, I remain stilled by the memory of that day, those dead birds, and the need to "do something" to make sense of nature colliding with a man-made obstruction.  Finally, I've used the photo I took for another mini art quilt, another reminder that every day should not be wasted.

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