THE WORK OF BIRDS | TDP GALLERY
JANUARY 10 - FEBRUARY 9, 2019
In Morocco a year ago, I grew captivated by the white storks that built their nests into the architecture and general infrastructure of the cities and towns where I went. The nests were large, sprawling affairs, built mostly of sticks and grass. But they were also filled with all the detritus of the cities. Into the sticks, the birds interwove bits of clothing, plastic bags and assorted small objects, perhaps out of structural consideration or concern for comfort, but also to a degree that suggested even a desire to decorate.
Moroccans love their storks, and a local mythology suggests that storks have human souls. Far from treating storks as pests, Moroccans go to great effort to avoid disturbing their nests. When a nest must be moved because it disrupts the power grid or is in a place dangerous for the birds, it is relocated with great care by trained experts. I appreciated the Moroccans who clearly respect the storks’ exuberant home decorating style.
Back home and in the studio, I kept thinking about the storks. Not the storks themselves, so much as all of the logic that went into their elaborate nest building and nest occupying. Most of my creative work over the past decade has concerned itself with birds and animals. They represent the “other”; that one in whom we recognize familiar characteristics but whom we can never fully understand. Although they are ultimately unknowable, we study them and sift for clues. And while, on one hand, we can never fully grasp their logic, on the other hand, we end our explorations with a firmer grasp of our own internal reasoning.
To engage in this process, I became a stork for 6 months. I built a nest out of the natural material in my local environment, and I decorated it with the detritus of my studio. I populated my walls with fellow storks who helped me gather materials. Seen from a nest-building perspective, my prints and drawings, art materials, and assorted studio clutter took on different meanings and I evaluated them by different standards. One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor as the saying goes, but also, one artist’s art is another stork’s…art.