Birds of the Northeast: Gulls to Great Auks

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Now through May 14, view “Birds of the Northeast: Gulls to Great Auks” at Fairfield University Art Museum. The exhibition includes paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, and natural history specimens from the early 19th century through the present day.

Alexander Wilson, W.H. Lizars, engraver, Whittaker, Treacher & Arnot, publisher, “American Ornithology; or The Natural History of the Birds of the United States,” published 1832, “London Wild Turkey, Male and Female (Meleagris gallopavo),” engraving with original hand coloring. Lent by the Pequot Library, Southport, CT accession no. 2054, Gift of Mrs. Elbert B. Monroe. Image courtesy of Special Collections, Pequot Library
Matthew Day Jackson, “There Will Come Soft Rains,” 2015-16, portfolio of 12 four- color, four-plate etchings with colophon, edition: 36 (8/36). Printed by Christopher Creyts, published by Collaborative Art Editions, St. Petersburg, FL. Lent by Jordan D. Schnitzer. © Matthew Day Jackson, courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Beyond merely connecting us to the natural world, these artworks remind us of the toll taken on bird habitats since the beginning of European colonialism in North America; the delicate ecosystems that allow birds of all species to thrive came under attack, as birds were hunted for food and ornamentation and their habitats were destroyed.

Sculpture of a Great Auk
Todd McGrain, “The Lost Birds Project (Great Auk),” n.d., bronze
Birds in art
Marsden Hartley, “Give Us This Day,” 1938, oil on canvas. Lent by Art Bridges

“Birds of the Northeast: Gulls to Great Auks” complements the installation on Fairfield’s campus of The Lost Bird Project by artist Todd McGrain (on view through August, 2021). These monumental sculptures, created as public memorials to North American birds driven to extinction in modern times, present a chronicle of humankind’s impact on our changing world and a moving record of dwindling biodiversity.


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