‘Birds in Art’ awes and educates

Student views exhibits at “Birds in Art” show Nov. 29, 2012. (Photos by Mosheh Adamu)

Birds have been used in art for thousands of years. But artists have come a long way from the cave drawings of old.

Birds in Art” is an art exhibit that garners thousands of submissions a year from around the world. The show, run by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI, since its opening in 1976, focuses on presenting two and three dimensional works of birds.

Paintings, sculptures, photographs and other mediums are all eligible for submission. Of the thousands of entries, roughly 100-120 pieces are chosen by a jury to go on display in the museum each year.

“It was an exhibition they’d only planned to run once, but because it was so popular … we turned it into an annual event,” Andy McGivern, the curator of exhibitions for the Woodson Art Museum, said. “It always opens the week after Labor Day.”

In November, 60 of those works are then selected to take part in the traveling “Birds in Art” exhibit, which has run nationally and internationally. Those 60 works include roughly 50 two dimensional works and 10 three dimensional ones, McGivern said.

This year marks the first time it has made it to Alaska and to UAA.

“It’s student-driven, everything we do in the art gallery, so the student gallery team considered the idea and decided that they’d like to do this,” Michael McCormick, the assistant director of student activities said.

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The exhibit is currently running in the Student Union Gallery, and it wasn’t easy for the students on the gallery team to prepare for.

“One reason we thought it’d be a good idea is that we use the gallery as a laboratory for students to learn,” McCormick said. “The students on the gallery team are learning a lot about mounting an exhibit to a higher degree and a higher level than ever before because this is a professional exhibit.”

Student views exhibits at "Birds In Art" show.

McCormick also said that members of the team met with members of the Anchorage Museum to help them prepare for mounting and displaying the exhibit.

“We have to have precise standards as far as how bright the lights can be, we have to use certain types of brushes to brush the fronts of the pictures, there are specific ideas for how the different pictures are mounted, how high the pictures can be hung,” McCormick said. “Before we’ve just said, “Oh, let’s mount it this way,” but now we have to follow the precise, developed industry standard.”

Art professor Hugh McPeck has been an artist in “Birds in Art” a few times, including this year, and was key to bringing the exhibit to UAA.

“He brought the exhibition to our attention. And, since he knows the organizers, he also spoke to them and said they would love to see it come to Alaska,” McCormick said.

McGivern agrees.

“He’s a regular “Birds in Art” artist,” he said. “He’s been a part of it since, 2003 I think was his first time in.”

Due to time constraints, McPeck could not be reached for comment. His work is visible as part of the show featured in the gallery.

Birds in Art” will run in the Student Union Gallery until Jan. 25. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. There are no weekend hours.