This series focuses on species of birds that are critically endangered or extinct primarily because of human interference. I began studying hummingbird forms as a way of honoring and remembering my Nana. This led me to develop a large series of small-scale paintings exploring a diversity of bird species, including the Great Auk, a North Atlantic coastal bird hunted into extinction by humans.
This series depicts extinct birds in their natural habitat while also presenting the relationship between humans and nature. I became interested in the conversational quality among mixed materials and worked to effectively combine them. Each piece in this exhibition was created with the use of unconventional materials such as foam, modeling paste, wax, and found objects, combined with acrylic paint on canvas. I chose some of these materials for their recyclability, and others for their inherent qualities. For example, the sculpted bird was made primarily from wax, a material known for its ephemeral nature, to emphasize the fact that these animals are not here forever.
In creating the pieces, I focused on the individual narrative of each bird. Each of the three birds are shown moments before their subsequent extinction or critical endangerment in an almost pop-up-book manner. Separate, but connected, sculptures and paintings work together to create the scenes. Subtle additional hints toward well-known environmental issues such as deforestation and climate change are shown throughout the pieces.
There is somewhat of an understanding of the impact of pollution and climate change on the world itself as these are commonly discussed in the media. These are very broad terms and are the result of many negative habits that society has adopted as inconsequential and normal behavior. It is not abnormal to walk out to the street and find a never-ending stream of discarded cigarette butts, half-chewed gum, wrappers, and receipts. Balloons are thoughtlessly released into the sky in ceremonies, ultimately leading to entangled birds fighting to break free from their new plastic prisons. These comments are not intended to condemn people for these faults, but to bring awareness to these growing concerns and the need for conservative efforts. It is becoming increasingly evident that the relationship between humanity and nature is a negative one. We are here for just the blink of an eye, whereas the rest of the world will continue to suffer by our hands following our demise. Whether we choose to accept it or not, the future of this planet is in our hands. Humanity can, and should, do better.
About the Artist
Becca Keifer is an artist from Lewisberry, Pennsylvania and is currently completing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art from York College of Pennsylvania, where she is majoring in painting and sculpture. Her artwork has been shown in several group exhibitions, including Rapidity and the Annual Juried Student Exhibition at York College Galleries and Marketview Arts in York, Pennsylvania. She has completed several private commissions in the York area. Becca has also been on the Dean’s List for several consecutive semesters at York College of Pennsylvania.