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click here to download a pdf version of this statement
see the "Birdland" sculptural work
read David Lusk's essay about the project

BIRDLAND is a collection of twenty-four sculptures standing in a field of 600 red poppies. The sculptures are odd hybrid creatures, a cross between men and birds. The figures are at the same time scary and benevolent, dark and funny. They are a fragment of a dream remembered upon waking, which haunts you throughout the day. The sculptures are carved and fired clay with oil paint and graphite surfaces. The eyes are hand painted by a taxidermist. Most of the birds have the eyes of reptiles or mammals, enhancing the surreal feel of the piece. The sculptures are elegant but slightly awkward: Men trying to fly, birds trying to talk. The installation has the feeling of a film still- a paused moment in time.

The entire project started with the eyes. I felt that the precise beauty of the eyes combined with the funky carving of the figures would create an interesting tension. This seed of an idea evolved along with a disparate group of images floating around in my mind, fragments of memory. The field of poppies in which Dorothy and her companions fall asleep in The Wizard of Oz, Nineteenth Century naturalist drawings, the gestures of people I know, the stuff of dreams in a far away land…Birdland.

Melissa Stern 2006