Nancy Spahr’s current exhibit of multi-media bird nests in Staunton, Virginia, is simultaneously inspiring and delightful…and disturbing.
Delightful because she combines surprising detail, careful research, and creative combinations of materials and media in her art work.
Take a look at one of her “assemblages”: basically a variation of a shadow box that contains an abandoned nest, 3D printed and hand-painted eggs, an image of a chipping sparrow superimposed on old dictionary paper.
Nancy emphasizes in her artist’s statement that all of her bird nests were collected well after the nesting cycle of the birds was completed. She made sure not to interfere with nature by researching each bird’s habits. Any feathers or wing parts used in her works are either from domestic fowl or found dead birds.
I particularly liked this painting of a robin’s nest cradled in the curves of an antler, the softness of the round nest held by the hard, spiky strength of the antlers.
Another emotionally evocative piece was this mixed media construction of a robin mama guarding her nest:
The following piece, created with the use of oil, tar, sand and feathers, represents a barn swallow nest aptly entitled “Feathering Your Nest.” Nancy described how a pair of barn swallows built a nest from mud pellets, straw, grasses and poultry feathers inside a barn right above her work table. She had to move the table to avoid disturbing the swallow parents as they tended first to the eggs, then to the baby birds until they were ready to leave the nest.
Then there was the disturbing part of the exhibit, city nests that incorporated trash we humans drop mindlessly wherever we go:
When you look closely, you can see the cigarette butts woven into the nest! While research has shown that the chemicals in these cigarette butts may actually deter ticks and mites, they can also cause physical damage to the birds.
Lastly, the largest art piece was entitled “Is This The Bird’s Future?” incorporating familiar throw-away trash.
What have we done to our world?!
To see more of Nancy Spahr’s art: http://www.SpahrArt.com