Open Studio: 3/25/17 3:00 – 6:00 pm or by appointment
Instar Lodge, 4 Church Avenue, Germantown NY
For the month of March I have been diving into the concept of women in ornithology as an Artist in Residence at Instar Lodge. To have the space and time to devote to a project is invaluable – any artist will tell you that. Sometimes in order to take a break from regular life and focus it helps to participate in an artist residency. When I was accepted as an artist in residence at Instar Lodge, a really special new space in Germantown, New York, I immediately knew I wanted to make a project about Margaret Morse Nice. She was an ornithologist in the early 1900s, and made huge contributions to the field through her work. Instead of studying birds at a distance she spent eight years recording the everyday details of song sparrows at Interpont, her study area in Columbus Ohio. Her groundbreaking work, Studies in the Life History of Song Sparrows, took a closer look at individual birds over time than any previous study and changed fieldwork in science. However, being a part of the scientific community was difficult at that time for women and the demands on being a wife and mother (despite her family’s support) was difficult.
This work explores the push and pull between Nice’s passion for research and being a housewife and mother.
These themes come to the forefront in this installation as traditional feminine items, such as a sewing machine, are overtaken by charts, words, and text from Nice’s books. In The Meaning of the Nest, the pieces of a sparrow’s nest interwoven with Nice’s words are literally spilling out of a drawer, unable to be contained. In Measuring Hours, a quote from her autobiography describing her relentless dedication to research is transposed over and over on a tape measurer. Her need to study and record is so powerful that it is subtly emerging throughout these everyday items. The combination of Nice’s writings, image transfers of her charts and maps, and antique items with my own drawings and creative interpretations results in an unconventional and whimsical biography of a female scientist who fundamentally shifted the field of ornithology with her work.
I’ll be updating at the end of my stay with some more more photos of the work and of my Open Studio on 3/25/17. If you are near Germantown, NY please stop by to say hello!