These shadowboxes within book-shaped boxes include pages from The CONDUCT of LIFE, a collection of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, published in 1860. Emerson's chapters, and my Travelogues, are variously entitled Fate, Power, Wealth, Beauty, Culture, Behaviour, and Religion. The background panels are made of vintage postcards.
(Wood, paper, pvc, resin birds and books)
I've done several versions of this theme, from outside and inside the window.
This piece had the longest gestation of any of my Aviaries. I keep boxes of interesting bits in my workshop, hoping that someday inspiration will come to me. These plaster columns and lintels are the remains of a large sculpture I made circa 1984, with design details swiped from the great temple at Karnak, in Egypt. The background is a hand-made print entitled The Garden of Eden, by my late mother-in-law, surrealist artist Janet Krieger.
I love to collect old ephemera. I found a box of small jigsaw puzzles with wonderful bird illustrations, like paint-by-numbers, but it took years to think of a way to use them in a diorama. Perhaps the best one was Duck, but naturally that was the only puzzle missing a piece, which stumped me for a while.
When I was working at an invention company and learning CAD drawing, I wanted to see if I could design an Aviary entirely on computer (couldn't avoid starting, however, with my usual sketch on the back of an envelope). The inspiration for these is from 1930s bad science-fiction movie serials. A green glass skylight adds to the atmosphere.
Birds On a Wire and Orioles at the Shore always have hand-painted landscape backgrounds. Sometimes simpler is better.
This is a diorama I made for the Rachel Carson Homestead. The writer, scientist, and godmother of the environmental movement grew up just outside of Pittsburgh, and fans and followers make pilgrimages to see the house she grew up in. The first thing they want to see is the bedroom window Rachel looked out from, to get a glimpse of the view that helped shape her ideas about the natural world and man's effect upon it. That view has changed of course; a hillside of suburban houses, and no longer an orchard stretching down to the Allegheny River, but I've tried to imagine what it might have looked like to her.
I've made other window pieces with a similar skylight. A little toplight make these some of the best theaters, with a remarkable illusion of depth.
This was such a fun piece to make, and probably the biggest one I've done. The overall concept is a three-dimensional film strip, and it's full of references to the passing of time. The title is a taken from Shakespeare's Henry IV, part II.
These were some of the very first Aviaries I made; a world viewed through a keyhole being an early theme. There have been others, but here are Pear Amour and Pomme d'Amour.