Audubon Mural Project

Endangered Harlem by Gaia

Location: 1883, 1885, and 1887 Amsterdam, New York, NY 10032

Painted: Mural was completed 10/29/2015. 

About the Bird: Passerines, more commonly known as songbirds, comprise the majority of the climate-threated species in Audubon’s “Survival By Degrees” report. The spunky, yellow-and-black Magnolia Warbler likes to hang low so can be more frequently seen, but at the current rate or warming will likely disappear from the majority of its North American breeding range. The brilliantly red Scarlet Tanager nests across the eastern half of the United States but as the planet warms may be pushed almost entirely into Canada. The Tree Swallow is currently widespread and common, but as it pushes north will become a far rarer sight across the United States. The Black-and-white Warbler may expand its summer range into Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri and across the East Coast but would lose just as much in the northern United States and southern Canada.

About the Artist: Gaia was raised in New York City­ and graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. His studio work, installations, and gallery projects have since been exhibited throughout the world—notably, at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Rice Gallery, and Palazzo Collicola Arti Visive. His street work has been documented and featured in several books on urban art, including Beyond the Street: The 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art. Gaia’s mural includes four species of migratory birds: the Black-and-white Warbler, the Magnolia Warbler, the Scarlet Tanager, and the Tree Swallow. In the top right corner he painted a portrait of John James Audubon as a young man; in the bottom right, a photo by Russell Lee taken in the South Side of Chicago in 1941 during the swell of the second great migration; in the bottom left, the hand of James Lancaster, who led the East India Company’s first fleet in 1600, resting on a globe. “I’m grateful to be able to be a part of the Audubon Mural Project and to have had the opportunity to push this photoshop method of arranging history visually,” he says. “These three patterns of migration run parallel to one another. But the greatest irony of it all is raising ecological awareness whilst the people of Harlem are endangered of significant gentrification.”

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