In 2023 my sculpture practice expanded to include interaction and documentation with my project, Bird Happenings.
For 35 years, I have been creating objects and installations using a variety of mediums—steel, found objects, wire, and now porcelain. I celebrated the drama and excitement of Times Square with a block- long steel drawing of 34 faces that wove through a custom fence along Broadway at 46th Street from 1996 to 2009. I paid tribute to the anonymous victims of human and natural disasters by creating piles of miniature figures made from fragile unfired clay and later glazed porcelain. My search for a way to aggregate these figures brought me to shadow boxes, and then to porcelain cakes, which became domestic monuments to tragedies such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the genocide in Rwanda. The cakes also allowed me to pay tribute to experiences like a girl’s body shame or my revulsion at the results of the 2016 election. This focus on the household tabletop inspired a series of non-functioning subversive tableware such as perforated ice cream bowls and spiked teacups alongside a birthday cake with a dead bird on top.
This year I started making porcelain cakes with wells to hold bird seed. Once spring arrived, I began arranging cakes, plates, teacups, and utensils on bistro tables in the garden. Watching the setup and anticipating a bird’s arrival was interesting but very time-consuming, so I taped my iPad to a ladder with the video camera running and collected hours of bird shenanigans--swooping in to explore the objects, sampling and spilling various seeds from the cakes, calling out to their friends and foes. I was very moved the first time I saw a bird alight on the edge of a
teacup and sip water, and these videos are now part of my process. This going from making objects and installations to creating and documenting interactions feels like a breakthrough, since in many ways the purpose of art is not only to express or memorialize something, but to connect with others--to mitigate one’s loneliness.
Creating these bird happenings allows me to explore my appreciation for nature, an
acknowledgement of how strength and fragility are inextricably connected, the joy and limitations of the moment, our ever-looming mortality. Through video and the frames I isolate, I hope to share my awe for these magical creatures and their interactions with the world.