The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art

Birds have long been a source of mystery and awe. Today, a growing desire to meaningfully connect with the natural world has fostered a resurgence of popular interest in the winged wonders that surround us daily.

Art Exhibition previously on at Smithsonian in New York, United States.
From Friday 31 October 2014 to Sunday 22 February 2015

Visitation image

Published by Smithsonian on Wednesday 31 July 2013.
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Abundant and accessible, birds are a ubiquitous reminder of our natural and cultural origins. Whether strolling on a city street or along a woodland path, we need only direct our gaze skyward to witness a primal passage that has captivated humankind for millennia. Birds not only carry the memory of the earth as it once existed but they point to the continuity of human activity, serving as a link to our past and a harbinger of our future.

Birds of a Feather brings together more than a dozen artists who employ avian imagery as a conduit for understanding contemporary culture. Unlike historical examples of avian art that focus on the science of birds or their symbolism in religion, myth and legend, artists today are turning their attention to the “life of the skies” as a way to interrogate and interpret our own earthbound existence. At its core, Birds of a Feather is not about birds but what they tell us about human behavior. The exhibition will explore how we identify and describe birds; what they reveal about our evolving relationship with the environment, and our competing impulses to control and conserve nature; the significance birds have in our imaginative and emotional lives as emblems of the great American wilderness; why the search for avian life has become a sacred ritual in secular society, and how it effects the way we see ourselves as individuals and as a society.
Birds of a Feather will include approximately 50 paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures from public and private collections. Featured artists include David Beck, Rachel Berwick, Lorna Bieber, Barbara Bosworth, Petah Coyne, Walton Ford, Roni Horn, Paula McCartney, James Prosek, and Fred Tomaselli.

The exhibition is organized by Joanna Marsh, The James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art.

3rd floor North, American Art Museum (8th and F Streets, N.W.)
October 10, 2014 – January 19, 2015