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2004 Walton Ford Born: Larchmont, New York 1960 Blue Heron Press (Publisher) Wingate Studio (Printer) color etching, aquatint, spit-bite and drypoint on paper 44 x 31 in. (111.7 x 78.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment 2010.3 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

In Visitation, a large flock of passenger pigeons gorge themselves in a field strewn with fruit and nuts. Ford’s scene recalls a written description by Audubon, “Whilst feeding, their avidity is at times so great that in attempting to swallow a large acorn or nut, they are seen gasping for a long while as if in the agonies of suffocation.” The birds’ ravenous feasting on the bounty of the land could symbolize the profligate exploitation of natural resources perpetuated by European settlers in the New World, which ultimately led to the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Ford also notes that the image alludes to the human tendency of blaming victims for their own destruction.

The Singing & the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art, 2014


Animal - bird - pigeon

Landscape - mountain

Object - letter

graphic arts - print

paper - wove paper - somerset



etching - color