September 11 – November 28, 2021
From their lyrical birdsong to their migratory patterns, birds connect us to the rhythms of life. For the 46th year, this annual exhibition attracts worldwide artists’ original paintings, sculptures, and graphics created within the past three years. Since 1976, the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum has organized Birds in Art annually, seeking to present the best contemporary artistic interpretations of avian themes.
Ascending to new heights, Birds in Art 2021 offers inspiration to persevere, endure, and thrive. This year, 510 artists submitted 813 artworks for jurors’ consideration. Artwork from 113 artists from throughout the world comprises the 2021 exhibition that includes artwork by 92 artists whose work was selected by the jury and 21 Master Artists previously honored by the Museum and who are exempt from the jury process.
Presented in mediums ranging from watercolor, oil, linocut, and scratchboard to acrylic, wood, wire, and bronze, Birds in Art 2021 artwork also includes unusual techniques and materials. One artist’s paintbrush is an open candle flame; Seven Spazuk uses a fumage technique to create images with trails of smoke. A blue parrot made from bullet and shotgun shells heralds the return of artwork by Federico Uribe. Although new to Birds in Art 2021, his exuberant sculptures made from everyday objects attracted visitors in record numbers during summer 2018. Another among the thirteen first-time Birds in Art artists, Jamie Cassaboon depicts an Atlantic puffin via graphite. Milwaukee sculptor Don Rambadt incorporates colorful glass, along with shadows and reflections, into his bronze sculpture of a painted bunting.
Among artists referencing pandemic-related themes, Karen Bondarchuk’s “Tower of London” depicts “Covid Corvid,” a kindred crow surveilling the area beneath a turbulent sky. Mark Collins, during five months at the easel working on his watercolor painting, endeavored to make every brushstroke a tribute to the people most affected by the pandemic.
For others, specific birds provided solace and inspiration. Cindy House, who incorporated a pileated woodpecker into her pastel artwork, found it reassuring to focus on a thriving species, offering hope. Painter Nancy Howe added a flying redpoll to suggest “the return of vitality, circulation, and hope to follow this year of sheltering in the shadows.”
Conservation and environmental themes continue to motivate artists and, while constrained from traveling, some artists focused on studio work inspired by memorable forays and events. An extraordinary 2011 convergence of migrating warblers on a Maine coastal island inspired Aleta Rossi-Steward’s oil painting, “Fallout.”
During San Francisco-based sculptor Tom Hill’s residency, September 28 through October 10, community members will join Tom in creating wire birds to contribute to a flock, which will be installed as a single sculptural work at the Museum; get details about the project and programs, including a workshop, via the events calendar.
Thanks to the members, donors, grantors, and sponsors who support exhibitions and programs. Aspirus Health and Aspirus Health Plan are presenting sponsors of the Birds in Art 2021 exhibition. Wisconsin Public Radio is the media sponsor. Exhibitions and programs are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Marketing is supported in part by City of Wausau Room Tax funds.