A lesson from a bird’s-eye view

They soar high above telephone lines, the traffic on the road, and the streams of people walking beneath them. With wings of majestic feathers, they are birds. Northern Kentucky University opens a new exhibit, “For The Birds: an Invitational Exhibition that Explores and Celebrates the Birds.”

For many artists, elements of the natural world play an important role in their artwork. The artists, many regional and some outside the area, have gathered for this exhibit to explore the role of birds in their artwork. The artwork ranges from ceramics, painting, photography, collage, mixed media and installation.

This exhibit explores many concepts dealing with birds such as death, the beauty of flight, the spirituality of birds and a study of bird communities, as a reflection of our own community.

For Ken Page, a local artist and NKU alumni, birds are an aesthetic element of his artwork. Page’s work is a mixture of painting, sculpture and rural scenery.

“Birds are very useful elements to fill empty areas like skies and are great for giving a sense of movement,” Page said.

For Ana England, a ceramics professor in the Visual Arts Department at NKU, birds are a symbol for freedom, beauty of the natural world, and a source of drama. In her piece entitled “Basilica,” England mixes bronze work, white porcelain and stone.

“We just love the birds because they have music, they have a culture, they have architecture with their nests and they’re very free,” England said.

Ruth Wartman, a Los Angeles artist, received her BFA in painting through the Art Academy of Cincinnati. It was while she was in college that she began to integrate birds in her artwork.

“Birds took hold late in college as a way to paint figuratively without painting the figure. I wanted something concrete but not really defined,” Wartman said. “The birds acted as psychological self-portraits.”

When working on her artwork, Wartman focuses on the perspective of birds during flight.

“The idea that you could lift up and out of any given situation and view the bigger picture,” Wartman said, “gain a better perspective on what’s happening by changing how you’re looking at it.”

“For The Birds: an Invitational Exhibition that Explores and Celebrates the Birds” runs from Feb. 10 through March 4. The exhibit is located inside the Fine Arts Building at NKU in the Main Gallery and the Third Floor Galleries. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m, Monday through Friday.

Story by Shawn Buckenmeyer