"The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art" examines mankind's relationship to birds and the natural world through the work of 12 major contemporary American artists. The artists featured in the exhibition are
The presentation of "The Singing and the Silence" coincides with two significant environmental anniversaries--the extinction of the passenger pigeon in 1914 and the establishment of the Wilderness Act in 1964. Inspired by the confluence of these events, the exhibition explores how artists working today use avian imagery as a way to understand contemporary culture and the widespread desire to meaningfully connect with the natural world.
"At its core, this exhibition is less about birds and more about what birds tell us about ourselves and our connection to our planet," said Marsh. "Together the works create a collective portrait of our own species as informed by our relationship with birds."
While artists have historically created images of birds for the purposes of scientific inquiry, taxonomy or spiritual symbolism, the artists featured in "The Singing and the Silence" instead share a common interest in birds as inspiration for exploring man's own earthbound existence. The nearly 50 artworks on display examine mankind's evolving relationship with the natural world and the ways in which birds symbolize human impulses to both conquer and conserve nature. The exhibition's title is drawn from the poem "The Bird at Dawn" by
A number of artists will travel to the museum to install their artworks personally, including Berwick, Coyne and Prosek. Behind-the-scenes views of these installations will be available on the museum's website. Berwick's cast crystal sculpture, "Untitled (Blue)," will be on public display for the first time as part of the exhibition, as will a temporary, site-specific mural created by Prosek for the entrance of the exhibition space.
Free Public Programs
A series of free public programs will accompany the exhibition, including curator-led gallery talks, discussions with artists, film screenings and a family festival. Marsh will lead a gallery talk
The museum has created an "indoor birding" social media challenge that encourages finding, sharing and discussing depictions of birds in works of art. Beginning in the fall, submissions can be posted to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #ArtBirds, a selection of which will be reshared by the museum.
A slide show of selected artworks in the exhibition will be available this fall on the museum's website, americanart.si.edu/birds. Behind-the-scenes insights about the exhibition will be published on the museum's blog, Eye Level, at eyelevel.si.edu. The public may also follow the museum for exhibition updates on Twitter by following @americanart and using #ArtBirds,
"The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art" is organized by the
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