The artists included in “Aviary” are: Roger Archibald, Rick Ashley, Karen Bell, Patricia Bender, Meg Birnbaum, Melissa Borman, Jenna Mulhall-Brereton, Kelly Burgess, Patty Carroll, Rebecca Clark, Heidi Clapp Temple, Robert Dash, Cori DiPietro, Alex Djordjevic, Tsar Fedorsky, Diane Fenster, Fran Forman, Conrad Gees, Steve Gentile, Daniel George, Aubrey Guthrie, Barbara Hayden, Janet Holmes, John Holmgren, Carol Isaak, Ellie Ivanova, Paul Jett, Doug Johnson, Paul Kessel, Molly Lamb, Laurie Lambrecht, Honey Lazar, Daniel Long, Ingrid Lundquist, Kerry Mansfield, Denise Marcotte, Alysia Macaulay, Cheryl Medow, Bibiana Medkova, Yvette Meltzer, Donna Moore, Paul Murray, Rebecca Palmer, Jane Paradise, Lori Pond, Esther Pullman, Becky Ramotowski, Katherine Richmond, Paula Riff, Joshua Sarinana, Wendi Schneider, Sara Silks, Felice Simon, Vicky Stromee, Don Swavely, Donna Tramontozzi, Marie Triller, Emily Vallee, Ellen Wallenstein, Dianne Yudelson, and Andrea Zampitella.
- Contributors: Paula Tognarelli
- Publisher: Griffin Museum
- Date of publication: 2017
- Dimensions: 8″x10″
- Number of pages: 102
- Price $40
What draws us to the birds? Is it the carefree flight or energetic purpose? Is it the avian song that thrills us, their soft flicks and twitches, or the knowing cocked head and one watchful eye?
Poets invoke them. Filmmakers cast them. Writers describe them. The Post Office has a stamp of them. In Anglo Saxon tales of the sea the bird is companion. Chaucer defined love through bickering “foules.” Emily Dickenson watched the sandpiper bite a worm in two. Harper Lee used a bird as a symbol of innocence in her novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” “Shoot all the bluejays you want,” Atticus said to his children. “But it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Birds can represent both the crises and jubilations of the times. For example, the “caged bird” is a metaphor for being trapped or confined.
“But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage / Can seldom see through his bars of rage / His wings are clipped and his feet are tied / So he opens his throat to sing. / The caged bird sings with a fearful trill / Of things unknown but longed for still / And his tune is heard on the distant hill for / The caged bird sings of freedom.” – Maya Angelou
In the Northeast a robin sighting raises spirits in winter. Soon winter will end. Despite this popular myth, the robin redbreast is not a precursor of spring. Punxsutawney Phil and the red, red robin have no influence over the changing of seasons.
Boston has some famous birds. The Public Gardens in the Back Bay is home to a few. Here is the annual spring nesting area for a swan couple or two. For more than a century the iconic pedal-driven Swan Boats have entertained the public not far from this swan hatchery. Down the path a bit, the bronze statuary of Robert McCloskey’s 1914 children’s story “Make Way for Ducklings” created by Nancy Schön, leads the way to the corner of Beacon and Charles Street. Not far away the Greenway Carousel, built by artist Jeff Briggs, is located between Faneuil Hall and Christopher Columbus Park. It is home to several custom-made feathered mounts. You’ll find no horses here but a wise old owl and a peregrine falcon like the one spotted often atop the Old State House. The animals on this merry ride, like the turtle, fox and hare, all seem to take flight when this carousel starts its spin.
Birds have helped man convey thoughts as early as 3500 BCE in Mesopotamia. Scribes used Cuneiform to communicate through wedges made by the fingernail or a split reed tool. Birds were also used as writing symbols in ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics as early as 3400 BCE. The Bennu Bird hieroglyph symbolized “resurrection and the rising sun.” The use of the Goose meant “Son or Daughter of.”
“Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.” This proverb was referenced in 1545 in William Turner’s papist satire “The Rescuing of Romish Fox.” In 1599 John Minsheu cited an English version of the phrase in a dictionary he compiled. “Birdes of a feather will flocke togither.” It was more common in 1600 to use the word fly than flock so there is an English variation to the saying. “As commonly birds of a feather will flye together.” Birds of the same species do fly together for safety purposes to avoid predators. Photographers have a tendency to form creative global alliances with each other as well.
In sorting submissions for this call for entries, as curator, I did find common themes throughout, yet the authors work solo and live a great distance apart. I am always baffled by the creative consciousness that indeed exists. For example, a variety of peacocks were entered. Two photographers sent images of subjects holding birds. Many submitted feathers as symbols for birds. Only one photograph of a bird in a cage and one of an actual aviary were received.
In choosing photographs I tried to incorporate a variety of styles yet hold a threaded narrative that would draw the viewer down the long corridor. The photographers have made the Lafayette City Center Passageway into an enclosure for birds. Hence the title of the exhibition is “Aviary.” The birds exhibited here “flew in” from north, south, east and west corners of the country.
The Griffin Museum is thankful to these 61 photographers for sharing their 64 birds’ eye views.
The Griffin Museum is also thankful to Lafayette City Center and the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District for their ongoing support. It is my hope that all who visit this hall take flight and depart soaring, or leave “bob, bob, bobbin’ along” at least for the rest of the day. Coo. Tweet. Squawk.