Flock: An Exhibition Inspired by the Schuylkill Center’s Bird Collection
The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is pleased to present Flock, on display in the Center’s Welcome Gallery from December 2, 2011 through February 18, 2011. The exhibition takes a fresh look at the Schuylkill Center’s permanent bird collection through the eyes of photographer Lisa Haun. Haun’s photographic portraits—from a pair of screech owls eyeing each other to a yellow warbler perched delicately on a branch—defy their still subjects: they look alive and teeming with personality.
Sound displays by Jennie Thwing and Lorenzo Buffa complement Haun’s photos, inviting visitors to touch and open handmade birdhouses that come to life with the songs and calls of birds. Selections from the Schuylkill Center’s bird collection will also be on display. After the gallery exhibition, the Center invites visitors to walk their trails to see the birds themselves in flight.
Lisa Haun spent many years photographing rock bands, mostly in New York City, and is now pleased to have nature as her subject. She spent over a year working with the birds from the Center’s taxidermy collection. Using medium-format film and digital prints, her images are lush and elegant, allowing emotional connections with these creatures we rarely see still. “These birds are easily the most beautiful subjects I’ve ever been lucky enough to work with,” Haun writes in her statement for the exhibit. “Each and every one inspires me.”
Jennie Thwing is an artist, curator and educator who specializes in video and new media. She was a featured artist in the Schuylkill Center’s fall 2010 exhibition, Ground Play. Thwing’s work has been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally, and she is a member artist in several recognized artist collectives in Philadelphia and New York. She received her MFA from UMBC in Baltimore and is currently an assistant Professor at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ.
Lorenzo Buffa is a Philadelphia-based designer specializing in industrial design, art direction and design management. Buffa is working towards his B.S. in Industrial Design from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts.
Early bird collections focused on the beauty of the bird, not the scientific information it might provide. In later years, these specimens served as important scientific tools for classifying and understanding various bird species. Charles Darwin, for example, collected over 400 bird specimens on his travels to the Galapagos Islands. Collections have also been heavily used by artists, particularly for the production of plates for ornithological field guides.
Today, bird collections are gaining use in retrospective studies of bird species and populations. As threats to bird populations grow and extinctions continue, historical specimens are valuable in documenting the impacts of human activities and causes of decline for threatened species. They offer modern scientists an opportunity for in-depth morphological and molecular study of past avian diversity.
The Schuylkill Center’s 340 acres of woodlands, fields, streams and ponds is an oasis for birds in Philadelphia and supports over 50 species. The Center has an active bird counting program and offers programs and information on birds throughout the year.