Date of Award
Art and Art History
This series of paintings focuses on red cockaded woodpeckers, an endangered species of bird and the longleaf pines forests which they live in and are reliant upon. I drew my inspiration mostly from personal experience with my family’s own efforts to restore one of these forests as well as my longstanding belief in the importance of protecting the environment. However, the point of these paintings is not to preach to people, but rather to show them the beauty of these trees and birds, so they can perhaps begin to care about them themselves instead of just being told that they should. I want to allow people to see them with more emotion and depth than they might otherwise. I combined subjects painted in a naturalistic way, to keep the focus on these specific species and their attributes, with more atmospheric elements in the backgrounds as well as more expressive poses and situations. The loose brushwork and flowing lines create a sense of movement and life beyond what might be seen in a simple image or photograph. Symbolism also plays a part in telling the story for these birds, often by having single birds or scenes to stand in for boarder themes. These elements push the perception past a casual glance at the real world, to indicate that there is something more to these plants and animals than people are usually aware of or paying attention to. I hope through this tribute to these species to show that these creatures have an intrinsic value and their own lives which are special and worth protecting, and to allow others a window into their story.
Gay, Michaela, "The Life and Struggles of Red Cockaded Woodpeckers" (2020). Honors Theses. 1581.
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