Avian Expert Articles

Bird Mural Depicts Avian History

Photo by Shailee Shah

Throughout the ages of human existence, art has been an important way to communicate. What’s communicated often runs the gamut of thought, appreciation, and visual display. From early man to the modern age, the methods and canvases have changed. From caves walls to paper, to elaborately constructed paint platforms, the beauty of art has evolved to become a richly intertwined part of our human nature. And of course, one of life’s beautiful subjects is the bird.

Our birds show off a rich palette of colors that can easily challenge any person artistically. In wanting to showcase the bird in as many as a million displays with more than a million colors, much magnificent art has been created featuring birds of all kinds. One of those artists is using her talent in a beautiful way by painting a mural that visually portrays 375 million years of avian evolution.

Birth Of A Bird Mural

Meet Jane Kim. She is part of a collective of artists known as Ink Dwell. Ink Dwell was also co-founded by Thayer Walker, a writer who has chronicled this massive undertaking of art that not only celebrates the history of our birds, but is also a creation of enduring art. Donors have helped to finance the ongoing work. Some of the birds painted even have the signatures of the mural donors artistically incorporated.

The mural is engagingly called “From So Simple a Beginning.” Over its projected 2,800 square feet of wall space at the Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, this massive painting depicts 270 species of birds. It also includes larger than life dinosaur birds that were present so many ages ago but are now extinct. The project was begun in 2014 with an expected finish goal date of 2016. Jane Kim and her assistants had to literally paint whole birds in short periods of time in order to be able to meet the goal time frame.

Bringing Realism And Interaction To The Bird Mural

All of the birds within this magnificent piece are painted in actual life sizes. If the bird was more than 5 feet in height, it was painted as such. The hummingbird was painted as small as it is. This was done to lovingly provide as realistic a representation of all birds. And being historically immortalized on the walls of the Cornell University’s famed Lab of Ornithology makes it a fitting location to be enjoyed for long into the future.

As an added bonus to the exquisite Wall of Birds mural, the Cornell Lab has prepared an online presentation of the wall as an interactive experience. With high-resolution photos of each bird from the painting, online visitors will be able to not only learn about each depicted bird, but will also be able to marvel at the work and dedication that went into this 2-plus years of beauty on a unique canvas. The interactive aspect of this artistic painting and its intent to educate and amaze is active for you to enjoy.

For lovers of art and birds, visit the online Wall of Birds to enjoy a zoomable, shareable slideshow of photos. Click a bird image and you get  short description of the sketch and painting to learn more about each subject. Additionally, you can view a short 8-minute behind-the-scenes video of this undertaking.

Awe-Inspiring Online And In Person

Juxtapoz Magazine calls the “From So Simple A Beginning” wall mural “one of the world’s most ambitious natural history murals.” You are certainly encouraged — and invited — to see this work of historic art at its location at Cornell University. You will no doubt be awed by its immensity and extraordinary complexity.

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
— Charles Darwin, “The Origin of Species,” 1859

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