For MIGRATION, Christopher Patch has created an installation of bird sculptures taking flight across the Mayo Street Arts gallery. The piece includes approximately 50 species from the artist’s “life list,” an ongoing record of his avian sightings from the past ten years. Each bird is a three-dimensional “collage,” comprised of a paper mâché body covered with fragments from the studio floor; a mash-up of discarded woodblock prints, hand-painted papers and gravestone rubbings.
Patch is largely influenced by the works of early American naturalists and bird artists of the 18th and 19th centuries. The “likenesses” they created were often stylized and anthropomorphized versions of animals, reflecting much more of the maker’s vision than mere documentation.
Similarly, Patch has designed these birds in his own vision, relying on a combination of memory, direct observation of live birds and various field guides and photographs. This results in an array of unique colors, patterns, and textures, suggestive of birds’ distinctive markings.
The project is a pilot for MSA’s Community Arts Residency Program and was completed with help from the children of East Bayside and other parts of Maine. Mayo Street Arts offers an artists’ residency program that provokes public dialogue through contemporary art-making and community based engagement. MSA is particularly interested in fostering and sustaining projects that provide development opportunities for its diverse, local and ever changing intercultural communities that reflect the East Bayside neighborhood of Portland Maine.