AORTA Projects: Jacqueline Bishop "Field Guide" Milne Boys Home

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“My vision for the Milne Boys Home was to paint the asphalt driveway with approximately 5000 simple black bird silhouettes that were individually cut from original drawings and applied with Industrial Zone and Marking paint directly onto the pavement. Much of my work focuses on the natural environment and its inherent connection to our lives. Considering there are approximately 460 bird species in Louisiana I will be stenciling a variety of these species in an effort to celebrate and raise consciousness about our unique and fragile environment.

The bird silhouettes covering the ground are designed to create a sense of birds in flight above, reminiscent of shadows coming from imaginary birds in flight. In reality these bird species would never interact with each other, but in this project the diversity of bird species migrating together symbolizes the need for human diversity to walk and work together to rebuild our landscape. The graphic nature of the black silhouettes can symbolize the absolutely critical state of our environment – it is a “black and white” issue that cannot be ignored. The eco-system that many of our native and migrant birds depend upon is under attack; as landscape changes or disappears the birds are threatened with extinction; many see this as the beginning of the end of life as we know it. Birds are important pollinators – they plant trees, flowers, fruit, eat biting insects, and deliver messages about our shared environment to those who are intuitive enough to listen. When powerful human leaders dismiss our wounded landscape, it is birds that can help regenerate it. Leading “Field Guides” migration through the Milne Boys Home driveway are images of hummingbirds – which for the Biloxi Indians represented the symbol of truth. The word Biloxi means “First People”. This native tribe from Mississippi became nearly extinct, but the few survivors ended up in Louisiana.

After experiencing the power of Katrina while sitting in my house, the most immediate, haunting memory after the storm was the deafening silence. There were no birds for days. It seems appropriate that this project can bring attention to birds who in turn bring life to abandoned areas in post-K New Orleans. I hope that “Field Guide” will also support the Milne Foundation in their efforts to renovate this amazing property and reinvigorate the Milne Boys Home as a destination for academic study and community activism.”

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