Whenever I see a bird on a tree, I think of Wallace Stevens’ poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” My favorite stanza’s this one:
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
And the painting that won the Natural Resources Defense Council’s first Environmental Art Prize reminds me of Stevens’ poem too, though the work depicts not three blackbirds but one yellowish bird. Created by San Francisco artist Saundra McPherson and titled Sanctus13, this painting shows a lone bird on a bare branch. Writes Saundra about her work:
Sanctus refers to the vanishing habitats of birds, among others, in the face of climate change and habitat destruction. Images are obscured, eroded, effaced, often seen only in silhouette, as though they are disappearing directly before us.
Sanctus’ theme ties in nicely with NRDC’s goals for the prize: “reminding viewers of the earth’s natural beauty and drawing attention to the serious environmental threats facing our planet.” Saundra’s work will be exhibited at the Nabi Gallery in New York City starting June 10 — along with the works of other prize finalists.