Reimagining the Southern Caracara

Street artist L7m spray paints a wall of art.

If John James Audubon could be reincarnated as a street artist, he might come back as L7m, the nom de guerre for Luis Seven Martins, a 26-year-old painter who lives in São Paulo, Brazil. Here L7m is at work on a wall rendering of the Southern Caracara, a close relative of the Crested Caracara that Audubon first saw in the early 1830s, in St. Augustine, Florida.

It seemed to be something “entirely new,” Audubon wrote, like a “mixture of buzzard and hawk.” After watching the creature feeding on a dead horse among some vultures, he further theorized that it was “an exotic bird, probably very common in South America but quite unknown to me or to anyone else in this place.” Indeed, while there is only a small population of Crested Caracaras in Florida, their southern cousins are widespread where Martins lives.

“I’ve seen many near the country house of my uncle,” he says. “She’s a bird that commands respect, and I like that a lot.” The prolific Martins’s depictions, once found only in Brazil, have now spread to Eastern Europe and Dubai. They are a mix of spray paint with china ink, latex, pastel, and acrylic. As for his subjects, “I always liked animals, in special the birds. I feel free painting them, and that’s how I want people to feel when they look at my paintings: freedom.” He is following in Audubon’s steps to help “everyone to be inspired by the birds, to be free, watch them fly, and look at them migrating. That’s what I want to do.” 

See all of John James Audubon’s Birds of America