Recycled Paper and Wood, Ink, Oil

Endangered: Mangrove Hummingbird with Sonogram of Song

This piece is part of a series of oil paintings of endangered and critically endangered birds I have incorporated elements from their habitats as well as sonograms of their calls.


Stacie Birky Greene

Originally from Colorado, Stacie Birky Greene received degrees in Art and Art History from the University of Kentucky. She also studied in Florence, Italy, and at the Art Institute of Chicago. Although painting was the focus of her training, she has explored her art in a wide variety of media, including drawing, performance, photography, installation and video. 
 The central focus of Birky Greene’s work has been to explore nature through a combination of materials and techniques. Her approach has often been guided by a fascination with form and shape, particularly as nodes for connecting unlikely allies, such as coral and cacti. By taking organic materials (or at least their representation) out of context, she compels the viewer to revel in patterns of structural unity. Her recent work has also considered the impact of human consumption and climate change on the natural world. Appalled by mass deforestation and habitat destruction, she has turned her attention to bird species that have gone extinct since the time of her own birth. The tangible results of this study will be revealed over the course of years, in a variety of projects. One feature of these works that is important to consider is her choice of materials: namely, junk mail, and reclaimed wood, which she either uses “as is” or manipulates, with the addition of other detritus, into homemade paper. It is a project that implicates us all in its struggle: here are beautiful objects made, nevertheless, from unwanted materials. Moreover, the materials themselves are the products of overconsumption of resources – fossil fuels burned in production and transportation, and deforestation to provide wood pulp for paper. The problem of avian ecology and the pressures these birds face is multidimensional, but the viewer is placed in the unlikely position of assessing and admiring the victim even as its emblem is formed from components that have been implicated in its destruction. 
Birky Greene lives in San Diego, and she exhibits her artwork locally, nationally and internationally. She has taught art to children and adults since 1998.

Stacie Birky Greene

describes their creative process

I have always been preoccupied with the natural world, which continues to be the main subject of my artistic work. I find myself particularly drawn to the paradoxical issues of nature’s power and fragility, and its often-fraught relationship with humanity. This has led me to my current project exploring endangered birds and, more recently, birds that have become extinct in my lifetime and the lifetime of the Endangered Species Act. When I took on this project I started by conducting 6 months of research in order to create a database. I consulted the NAT’s Philip Unitt during this phase in order to verify that I was on the right track, and have subsequently been in touch with amateur ornithologists to better understand the challenges of tracking and recording species populations, particularly in remote regions of the world. I update this database on a biannual basis in order to account for the fact that this field is constantly changing. The impetus for this project came from listening to an NPR “The World” story called “In Punjab, Crowding Onto The Cancer Train”, by Daniel Zwerdling, May, 2009. The story centers on the Indian farm town of Bathinda. In post-Green Revolution there was a disturbing increase in the number of villagers getting cancer. The first sign of trouble was in the 1980s and ‘90s, when the Peacocks were disappearing from the fields. Excessive use of pesticides was killing the Peacocks and causing cancer in the population. This story started my project of researching endangered birds. I wanted to highlight how human activity has contributed to the loss of these species, not just to mourn the loss of a beautiful creature, but also to provide awareness regarding the implications these events have for humanity’s survival. Human consumption and waste are conspicuous threats to the environment, and for my project to have the necessarily pointed weight it was important to choose materials that would provide commentary. Thus, I have drawn my series of endangered birds on paper I made from junk mail delivered to my home. For my series on extinct birds I have drawn on reclaimed wooden rectangles that are tiled to form a mosaic – a fragmented image represented a lost species. I am also creating a series of Specimen Drawers, after the drawers of animal skins, eggs, skulls, etc. found in Natural History Museums. This series speaks to the future of these species if we don't act.