This month we shift our focus skyward, paying homage to our winged brethren. Our fine-feathered friends are the first to greet us with song in the morning, the first to warn us when a storm approaches, and the first to mark the changing of the seasons. Whether migratory or resident, raptor or forager, social or solitary, birds observe the cadences of life closely. It has been my experience that they have much to teach us.
That must be why birds figure so prominently in art and lore. After all, what would the night sky be without Cygnus the swan flying over the Northern Hemisphere? Can we imagine Edgar Allan Poe casting a weasel as the ever-present creature responding "Nevermore"? What would Sesame Street be without Big Bird?
We'll let you, our esteemed Jedheads, ponder these thought-provoking questions.
Two Print Series, One Medium
While you ponder these thoughts, I invite you to take in E+J's own contributions to this fluttering discourse (and might I suggest listening to some Charlie "Bird" Parker or Andrew Bird while you're at it). For the first time in a dearantler show, the artists have used the same medium -- drypoint etching -- to produce two distinct but complementary print series that explore bird life from different perspectives.
Drypoint etching is a printmaking technique used by artists such as Picasso and Rembrandt in which an image is drawn with a "dry point" (a sort of sharp pen point without ink) onto a metal or other plate, creating an impression that can be inked and printed. Drypoint is characterized by soft, feathery lines that lend themselves to detailed expressions (and, appropriately, to birds).
What Kind of a Bird Are You? - traits and personalities of six species common to the Western US
Using art and science in equal measure, Edith's series reads like pages from a rudimentary bird guide published circa the golden age of the mimeograph. Each print includes a drypoint etching illustration of a bird looking over its shoulder, accompanied by solvent-transferred text conveying a few identifying traits (with some wit sprinkled in for good measure). The six species represent birds that E+J have encountered frequently, either around their Los Angeles stomping grounds or on travels through the Southwest.
The phrase "What kind of bird are you?" (famously spoken in Wes Anderson's film Moonrise Kingdom) is meant as a self-reflective question to the reader and visitor, not just a rhetorical inquiry. While we seemingly have nothing in common with birds, they have different traits and personalities just like terrestrial bipeds and quadrupeds. We at dearantler would like to believe that some of these qualities transcend species categorization, uniting us to our feathered relatives in some small way.
Empty Nests - filling the spaces between
Jolly's series is a still, contemplative collection of prints featuring nests that are widely varied in form. The nests are unoccupied, luring the viewer in as though waiting for their tenants to return. Birds literally build their own homes -- but each of us in some way builds our own home wherever we find ourselves. From our first "nest" as we're reared by our parents, to the homes we live in throughout our lives, we spend our defining moments creating memories that tie largely to those places we call home. Home signifies comfort, safety and nourishment, as well as the possibility of healing from yesterday and greeting tomorrow anew.
For the Birds is dedicated to Alison and Kevin, who fly with the birds.
The exhibit runs through December 12. Prints are available at our Etsy shop and may be purchased individually or as a set that includes all six prints in the series.