Anthony Becker - BUCKLED WINGS

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Anthony Becker Installation  -  Oct 5 to 27, 2011


            During an early morning commute in the fall of 2005, I was startled by the sight of a yellow-shafted flicker (a kind of woodpecker) lying dead in the center of the road. The bird had been hit moments before by a passing automobile, its underwings a vibrantly-colored match to the double yellow lines running into the distance.

            After the incident, I began noticing the motionless forms of other birds along the roads and highways in my area. I started keeping tallies, recording the kind of bird, the date, and “strike” location in a little notebook. In 2006: 60 birds, in 2007: 107 birds, in 2009: 132, 2010: 67. I also began scooping up more-or-less intact specimens and bringing them back to the studio to draw. As the drawings began to accumulate, the idea to produce a visual record, a lament, was born.

            The drawings in these files cover the year 2009. My hope is that they help answer the question of why birds are hit by autos. Obviously, bird mortality along roadsides is going to be high due to the millions of miles of roads crisscrossing the United States. But as you look through the files, notice the time of year birds are hit and also their sex. I was surprised (not really, upon reflection*) that most fatalities happen during the breeding season, i.e. the spring, and that a large percentage of the birds hit are male.

            I also hope, as you pull out the drawings and look at them, that they convey something of the uniqueness of each bird. An indigo bunting, for example, gets its midnight hue by refracting a combination of three colors:  cobalt, cerulean, and chartreuse. Finally, I hope these files place the bird/auto phenomenon into some kind of context. Birds may be agile and of the air, but can be careless and focused on other things; the pair of young cardinals I found lying one wing-beat apart on a spring morning are testament to that.


                                                 *Male birds, like male humans, are very territorial.

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