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This guide was created as a partnership between the DiMenna-Nyselius Library and the Fairfield University Art Museum and provides additional resources and information on the artists and objects included in the Fairfield University Art Museum exhibition, Birds of the Northeast: Gulls to Great Auks. On view January 22 - May 14, 2021.
Birds of the Northeast: Gulls to Great Auks features paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, and natural history specimens from the early 19th century through the present day. Beyond merely connecting us to the natural world, the artworks in this exhibition remind us of the toll taken on bird habitats since the beginning of European colonialism in North America; the delicate ecosystems that allow birds of all species to thrive came under attack, as birds were hunted for food and ornamentation and their habitats were destroyed.
Curated by Museum Director Carey Weber and Fairfield University Biology professors Brian Walker, PhD, Jim Biardi, PhD, and Tod Osier, PhD, the exhibition complements the installation on Fairfield’s campus of The Lost Bird Project by artist Todd McGrain. These monumental sculptures, created as public memorials to North American birds driven to extinction in modern times, present a chronicle of humankind's impact on our changing world and a moving record of dwindling biodiversity (on view from October 2020 to August 2021).
The “lost birds” section of Birds of the Northeast: Gulls to Great Auks features studies for McGrain’s sculptures, a Great Auk skeleton lent by the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University, and paintings of lost birds by contemporary artists including Walton Ford, Ann Craven, James Prosek, Morgan Bulkeley, and Alberto Rey. The “living birds” section of the exhibition includes specimens of a variety of common, local birds, also coming from the Peabody. Highlights include Marsden Hartley’s Give Us This Day and Matthew Day Jackson’s portfolio There Will Come Soft Rains, which draws from numerous sources - including old Audubon copper plates - to explore both preservation and apocalyptic destruction. Additional artworks include works by Alexander Wilson, John Gould, Emily Eveleth, James Prosek, Rick Shaefer, Carolyn Blackwood, Christy Rupp, Christina Empedocles, and Paul Villinski.
Birds of the Northeast: Gulls to Great Auks celebrates local birds that we know well and continue to enjoy, while being reminded that worldwide, over 150 bird species have already been driven to extinction, and an estimated 1,200 more are estimated to follow over the next century if action is not taken. This unique interdisciplinary exhibition demonstrates the ways in which art and science can join forces to raise awareness not only of the importance of saving bird habitats, but the preservation of our broader natural environment. The museum is proud to partner with the Pequot Library, the Fairfield chapter of CT Audubon, and the Greenwich Audubon Center in presenting the programming for this exhibition.
Exhibition text from: https://www.fairfield.edu/museum/birdsofthenortheast/
Image: Marsden Hartley, Give Us This Day, 1938, oil on canvas. Lent by Art Bridges
An essential academic and cultural resource for students, faculty, and residents of the surrounding geographic community and region, the Fairfield University Art Museum (FUAM) offers meaningful opportunities for first-hand experience of original works of art and their unique historical resonance. We foster appreciation of the visual arts; cultivate cultural literacy and critical engagement; conserve, research, and impart knowledge about the collection in accordance with best scholarly and museum practices; and champion human creativity of all cultures and time periods.
See the FUAM exhibition website to browse the featured artwork, and listen to the audio guide. Programming is also listed.
One particular virtual lecture, Birding While Black, will be given by J. Drew Lanham, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Master Teacher and Certified Wildlife Biologist, Clemson University, on Tuesday, March 2, 5 p.m. Lecture presented in partnership with the Department of Biology
Lanham's book, The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature, is available through the Library