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Nidification: the Art of Building a Nest

The love of nature and quiet walks came to me early, for as a child I walked the woods with my father. Slow walks bestow deep thought and inspiration to those who are open. Everyday walks provide me with solace, meditation, and discovery. Over the past seven years on my solitary winter walks I have collected over one hundred abandoned nests, their service over but their artistry intact. We relate in word and song to nest as home. We feather our nests; share a cozy little nest made for two, and then become empty nesters. Built for protection of their young, bird nests are abandoned the following year.

I am drawn to capturing the intricacy of their structure. Differing in construction techniques and materials, nests are built largely with organic material, though inorganic material is used as well; birds are natural recyclers. It is this structure that is fascinating; many of the nests are woven, some almost knitted into branches of trees. With the passage of time, the underlying architecture appears as a delicate and intricate drawing. The layers of meaning I associate with nests emphasize the art and architecture over the classification.

Nature has been the subject of photographic essays since its inception. Anna Atkins the first woman photographer had the first privately published photography book, British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature was the first commercially illustrated book. Nidification consists of two hundred handmade wet plate tintypes, two images of each nest showing the nest in its entirety and a closer detail of its construction. The handcrafted nature of historical processes echoes the birds’ construction and creates a worthy interpretation of the simple beauty of their nests.

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