Audubon Mural Project

Swainson's Hawk by Sarah Kenny Werner and Harlem Educational Activities Fund

Location: 564 W. 149th St., New York, NY 10031

Painted: 5/5/2019

Sponsored: In memory of Eleanor

About the Bird: Swainson's Hawks are scrappy, opportunistic feeders that snap up a wide range of prey, including caterpillars, bats, and snakes. Audubon’s climate models show it hanging on to most of its summer breeding range in the Great Plains and western United States, and even finding some more hospitable territory in Canada. Increased wildfires and spring heat waves, though, could erode its ability to adapt.

About the Artists: The middle school students of the Harlem Educational Activities Fund’s “Fine Arts in a Democratic Context” course develop techniques to learn how to nurture their stories, share them with each other, and teach others what they learn (with the support of their teacher, Sarah Kenny Werner). For the semester in which they produced this mural, their objective was to understand their right to connect to and care about green spaces. They also learned how digging deeper into questions about the urban ecosystem in which they live unearths political and social injustices that people have the power to act upon and change through art. Though these students have a wide range of interests (whether their chill time involves “Fortnight,” K-Pop, or Riverdale; whether they live to ice skate, debate, or ball; whether they want to be chefs, lawyers, or video game designers), they all work together to achieve these objectives and tell their collective story. “In choosing the Swainson’s Hawk, the students mentioned a number of factors: its physical strength, its clarity of vision, its social nature (often traveling together and gathering in group—much like them), and its aesthetic elegance.”

Video: Christine Lin/Audubon

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