(2015 statement) A commemorative bust of John James Audubon, based on historic portraits and cast in birdseed and agar (a seaweed-based edible matrix). The sculpture was installed on the lawn outside the picture window of the gallery where "Audubon's Birds" drawings were displayed. "Portrait of Audubon" was consumed by wild birds during the exhibition, which occurred at the height of the Spring migration.
Bird species were documented by students watching from the gallery window, and the data was submitted to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as part of a citizen science effort. This literal "feedback loop" was intended to raise questions about society’s indebtedness to the advances of past scientists, while critically engaging with their methods. The sculpture also provides a humorous opportunity for birds to participate in metaphoric revenge against Audubon, who shot many hundreds of birds in the name of scientific and artistic inquiry during his lifetime.
Peddie School, Hightstown NJ
In recent years, it has become clear that John James Audubon was a slaveowner and was dismissive and critical of the Abolitionist movement. For me, the widespread public emergence of these facts have amplified and reinforced my earlier critical engagement of Audubon's work in this project. For more information and reflection on Audubon's legacy on race as well as ornithology, see the article below by J. Drew Lanham from Audubon Magazine, "What do we do about John James Audubon," Spring 2021
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