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see the "Birds of America" drawings

Over 150 years ago, John J. Audubon chronicled bird life in America. His luscious drawings, though beautiful, portray the stiff formal world of their era. The birds are silent and isolated. I spend half of each year living in NYC and half on the edge of a wildlife sanctuary that resounds with birds, day and night. It is an island of vibrant wildlife in the midst of the 21st century. I became entranced with the notion of using Audubon’s drawings as a basis to portray my world. Using a wide variety of collage and drawing materials, I use Audubon's images as a taking off point for an investigation of human relationship, nature, family and drawing itself. The drawings are meant to be both funny and a bit dark. Birds, humans, contemporary and 19th century art all fly in an intermingled world. Layers of color, surface, image and narrative mimic the complex tangle of our lives. My birds are both homage to Audubon and an updating of his world.

Melissa Stern January 2008