Online Gallery for The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art

David Beck

David Beck’s meticulously crafted paintings, drawings, and sculptures evoke both curiosity and wonder. Each intimately scaled object references a range of sources, from medieval miniatures to American folk art and eighteenth-century mechanical toys. Beck has been depicting the dodo for nearly forty years, beginning with sketches based on an exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in New York. Beck’s diminutive sculptures evoke the surprise and discovery of childhood, but these playful curiosities belie a serious message about vulnerability, loss, and longing.

Rachel Berwick

Rachel Berwick’s sculptural installations investigate ideas of vulnerability and loss in the animal world. Her past projects have explored the extinct Tasmanian Tiger; the Galápagos giant tortoise, Lonesome George; and Martha, the last passenger pigeon. Berwick employs materials such as amber, crystal, and glass to reference natural phenomena and create haunting reminders of what has been—or is nearly—lost.

Lorna Bieber

For the past thirty years, Lorna Bieber has been using images appropriated from books and magazines as the starting point for her art. She then reinterprets the source images through a layered process of manipulation that involves enlarging, reducing, cropping, drawing, and collaging. By altering the original photograph, Bieber invites viewers to see the known world in utterly unfamiliar ways.

Barbara Bosworth

Barbara Bosworth collects samples of flora and fauna, not in specimen cages and bell jars, but with her large-format view camera. Bosworth’s photographs speak to the interconnectedness between humans, animals, and the environment. Her subdued images mimic the quiet, meandering walks she took as a child growing up in the Chagrin River valley of Ohio. They are about many things but most importantly a deep appreciation for nature.

Joann Brennan

Joann Brennan’s photographs grapple with the question of how we sustain wildness in a human world. Her work recognizes the paradoxical nature of human efforts to control and conserve wildlife. In her Managing Eden series, Brennan captures stewardship efforts across the country, showing the intimate relationship between scientists and their specimens.

Petah Coyne

Petah Coyne derives her inspiration from a range of sources, including literature, film, theology, and art history and personal memory. Her elaborate installations involve an ever-changing array of unorthodox materials, from human hair to religious statuary. Coyne began incorporating taxidermy into her work during the mid-1990s. Birds specimens, in particular, can be found in many of Coyne’s recent sculptures, representing themes of life and death, remembrance and renewal.

Walton Ford

Walton Ford has been depicting animals for as long as he can remember. Although immediately reminiscent of traditional natural history painting, Ford’s images double as complex allegories, blending depictions of nature with historical events and sociopolitical commentary. Over the last twenty years, Ford has created more than one hundred paintings and prints with birds as the primary subject.

Laurel Roth Hope

Laurel Roth Hope uses traditional techniques of carving, embroidery, crochet, and collage to transform ordinary materials into elaborate animal sculptures that are both playful and poignant. Her work is influenced by her background as a park ranger and focuses on the relationship between humankind and nature, touching on topics such as environmental protection, animal behavior, and species extinction.

Paula McCartney

Paula McCartney photographs constructed landscapes, both those that she finds and that she creates herself. Whether portraying fake birds among real trees or real birds amidst simulated habitats, McCartney’s images explore the gap between our idealized vision of nature and our actual experience of it.

James Prosek

James Prosek is an artist, writer, and naturalist whose work pays homage to the history of natural science while simultaneously addressing contemporary environmental concerns. His diverse body of work is the result of extensive travel and field observation. From these explorations, Prosek creates paintings, drawings, and sculptures that evoke the immense biodiversity of our planet and its imaginative potential.

Fred Tomaselli

Fred Tomaselli draws upon decorative traditions from around the world to create richly detailed paintings that pulsate with both abstract and figurative forms. In his signature pieces, natural materials such as leaves and seeds mingle with collaged imagery and painted patterns beneath clear layers of resin. The hybrid nature of Tomaselli’s work speaks to the relationship between humanity and the natural world.

Tom Uttech

Tom Uttech’s work is inspired by wide expanses of unspoiled wilderness in his native Wisconsin and neighboring Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. Uttech’s paintings, which take their names from various Ojibwe words and phrases, are fantastic imaginings, often populated with hosts of birds and other animals that traverse the landscape in a flurry of natural diversity.