From the Magazine Magazine

Illustrated Aviary

Reimagining 200 of Audubon’s Birds

Artist Jenny Kendler creates a bird’s-eye view of climate change. In her artwork, the birds are watching us.

(Hover over each eye to see its owner and read the original species description by John James Audubon). 

“Birds don’t vote or drive electric cars; we have to represent their interests,” says Chicago artist  Jenny Kendler. Each eye gazing from this page stands for one of 200 bird species vulnerable to extinction from climate change, according to Audubon’s new report, producing a mesmerizing portrait of what stands to be lost should humans do nothing to reduce carbon emissions—and how the natural world will bear witness.

It’s an evolution of Kendler’s Birds Watching sculpture, a 40-foot-long grouping of 100 reflective eyes mounted on aluminum. For this digital collage of the same name, Kendler carefully cut each eye, shown here to scale, from John James Audubon’s illustrations and arranged them to suggest an ecosystem that’s been knocked out of order by human carelessness.

“If we take clear, decisive, and speedy action on climate change now, these birds will be around for our children and grandchildren to enjoy,” Kendler says. “But if we don’t, they may slide off the page and disappear.”

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