“The project starts with me putting my hands into a bucket of clay and beginning to form out shapes. That heightened attention to form makes it possible for me to be receptive. We’re receptive to the things we open ourselves up to and making sculpture is what opens me up to the world,” says artist Todd McGrain.
McGrain’s passion for form is apparent when he speaks of the physicality of a life of sculpting. “Touch is literally the way we come in contact with the world.” The memorials are not naturalistic works of biological detail, McGrain’s intention is to create shapes that capture the presence of the birds, to make them personal and palpable, to remind us of their absence.
These bronze sculptures are subtle, beautiful, and hopeful reminders. The human scale of each sculpture elicits a physical sympathy. The smooth surface, like a stone polished from touch, conjures the effect of memory and time. I model these gestural forms to contain a taut equilibrium, a balanced pressure from outside and from inside—like a breath held in. As a group they are melancholy, yet affirming. They compel us to recognize the finality of our loss, they ask us not to forget them, and they remind us of our duty to prevent further extinction.
Each memorial has been permanently placed at the specific location directly related to the particular bird’s decline. An additional set of bronze sculptures has been cast and is available for temporary exhibitions.