Ornament #5 – The Convocation
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When I was in Jackson Hole, WY, for last year’s Fall Arts Festival, I observed a group of seven or eight goldfinches clustered together into an absurdly compact arrangement at the very top of a spruce tree right outside the condo where I was staying. I’m still not certain if I was observing a fight, a mating ritual, or some sort of feeding frenzy, but it was a memorable and mysterious sight. I imagined goldfinch representatives from far and wide coming together for some important meeting, and that became the basis for this, the most complex of my “Ornament” series so far.
The “Ornament” series combines birds with baubles leafed in precious metals. These baubles are not intended to objectively represent bird feeders, houses, or nests; rather, they function as whimsical, glittering perches for my favorite songbirds, emphasizing the very ornamental nature of the subjects themselves. My paintings have long focused on birds and animals disassociated from their natural habitats and presented, not as common animals, but as objects of reverence, as icons. The “Ornament” series represents the latest evolution of that style, with the gold leaf handily suggesting the spirituality of nature. In “The Convocation,” the elaborate gold object about which the birds flit and flutter almost takes on the quality of censer borrowed from a religious ceremony or sacred rite.