Lady Birds: Females Inspired by Avifauna exhibition on display through December 15th

By Jenny Zeller

2015 AIR Cathleen Faubert photographed artist Jamie Bell wearing her Goose Goddess Cape creation.



While researching Bernheim’s Artist in Residence history, I discovered that the landscape is not the only thing that has inspired our artists.  Birds, also known as Aves, have also been a major source of inspiration. And interestingly enough, all bird inspired artwork created in our residency program (to date) has been made by women. Lady Birds: Females Inspired by Avifauna is timely as it coincides with National Geographic’s designation of 2018 as Year of the Bird and because Bernheim is committed to protecting birds, this a great excuse to bring these works together before the years end.

This exhibit not only celebrates Bernheim’s Artist in Residence history but also former female artists whose work was inspired by the diverse and various bird life found at Bernheim. Whether it be geese roaming throughout the arboretum, birds documented from our wildlife viewing room to a taxidermic passenger pigeon from the Bernheim archives, this exhibition features newly exhibited and rarely seen works from leading contemporary female artists working in the mediums of photography, video, sculpture and textiles.

Eileen Neff’s ‘Blue Jays Looking at Blue’ is a response to reading not only about Ellsworth Kelly’s birding experience but also his discovery of form and color that influenced his artistic practice.


Highlights include a large cape, made from fabric, feathers and mixed media by 2015 AIR Jamie Bull. While in residence, Bull was inspired by the grazing Canadian geese of Lake Nevin and “Goose Goddess Cape” was made from found materials at Bernheim’s supply barn, shade cloth and feathers gathered from long walks around the lake when the geese were molting.

Lady Birds also features newly exhibited work from 2016 AIR Eileen Neff’s series “Domesticated and Wild”. Neff spent afternoons photographing birds from behind the glass wall in Bernheim’s Wildlife Viewing Room. Upon returning to her studio, she added flat planes of primary colors to some of those images after reading about American painter and sculptor Ellsworth Kelly’s experience as a young man, birding in rural New Jersey.

And in some ways this is a mini retrospective for Yvonne Mullock, who first came to Bernheim as an artist in residence in 2008. The experimental work she produced came about by working closely with the staff at Bernheim whose expertise spanned from turkey hunting to pollination. Stop in to see the short film ‘Birding By Ear At Bernheim’ that takes inspiration from an audio guide teaching listeners how to recognize regional birdcalls featuring members of Bernheim staff and volunteers. This is not an exhibit to miss and another great reason to visit Bernheim before the new year!


The exhibition is located in Bernheim’s Education Center and will be on display through December 15th.

Throughout October, the Education Center is open daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Beginning November 1, the Education Center will be open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on weekends.

This exhibit is free for members. The $5 weekend environmental impact fee still applies at the gate for non-members.

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