During my final three days as an artist-in residence on Peddock’s Island, I put together the finished artwork for installation at the Boston Harbor Island Welcome Center, Long Wharf in downtown Boston. The site chosen for the art installation is a large window space that allows visitors to see the artwork from both directions and at all times of the day or night. It can be viewed from the street outside the Welcome Center even if the Center is not open. During the office hours the Center is opened up and people can see the artwork from both sides. This window space is about 9 feet long and 3 feet high, and the artwork is suspended from the ceiling a few inches away from the glass so that a black window screen can be pulled down at night. It is an interesting site for the artwork about Peddock’s Island Birds and made with handmade paper from invasive plants, created with public participation by visitors to Peddock’s Island.
I put the piece together inside the chapel on Peddock’s Island. I had to choose from the more than 160 handmade paper birds to put together the finished artwork. Some of the left over birds will be used for other smaller pieces and to give to the volunteers and participants. Many of the handmade paper birds were made by public participants in the weekend papermaking workshops I held on Peddock’s Island August 20 and 21.
The handmade paper birds were laid out on plastic sheeting so as not to harm the tables, and I used natural cotton string in brown, beige and natural colors to join the bird shapes creating a sort of net-like background for the piece. The birds represented in this artwork are all water birds (herons, egrets, cormorants, sandpipers, oystercatchers, and terns) found along the shores of the islands, and I also used some goose feathers (they have many Canadian geese living near the chapel on Peddock’s) and leaves, wildflowers and other found natural objects from Peddock’s Island in the finished artwork. I used acrylic matte gel as a glue to put everything together glueing the string across the handmade paper birds and attaching the wildflowers, leaves, feathers, etc.
Then when the gel dried I peeled the whole piece off the plastic with the interwoven threads holding it all together. I had to pick out some of the excess gel in the negative spaces since I wanted the artwork to be as transparent as possible so that light could come through it in the window space. The gel also makes the handmade paper and natural string piece more lasting and gives it a UV protectant. The artwork is an irregular organic shape and has thread loops at the top to hang easily from ceiling hooks.
On August 25 at Long Wharf I participated in the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of America’s National Parks. I had the finished handmade paper artwork created during my residency hanging in a tent booth there and samples of the birds and the handmade paper made from invasive plants. It was great to talk with visitors there about the artist in residency project on Peddock’s Island.
These photos show the installation going up at the Welcome Center for the Boston Harbor Islands near Long Wharf in Boston. Thanks to volunteer Bob Marcus and my husband Tim for their great help in getting the piece hung in the window space. We only had about 45 minutes to do the installation since they were due to close up the Welcome Center at 5 PM. These photos were taken by Tim very late in the day with the sun low in the sky behind the window, so I hope we can go back one morning to get more photos in a different light. Also, the Park staff will be putting up a sign to identify this artwork and tell a little about how it was made.
I have also completed the Peddock’s Island handmade paper recipe book that gives information about making paper from three invasive plants: Phragmites or common reed leaves, Oriental Bittersweet Vine bark and Bell’s Honeysuckle vine bark. This book will be left at the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Welcome Center too.
Thanks again to the volunteers, the park rangers, Carolyn Lewenberg who was the Artist in Residency coordinator, and the staff at Boston Harbor Now for all their help and support during this residency project. I really enjoyed this experience being the first artist-in-residence at Boston Harbor Islands National Park, and I hope that the program will continue with all sorts of artists working on the islands to make art there that can enhance viewers experiences and inspire people to preserve the harbor islands for future generations.