I’ve had a brief discussion with some folks from an Indianapolis arts group about a long-term (perhaps five or six months) project focusing on birds in urban settings within Indianapolis. I don’t live in Indianapolis — I live in a smallish city in the county to the north — but I was born in Indianapolis, I was raised working for my Dad’s Indianapolis heating and air conditioning company and I teach in the Indianapolis Public Schools.
I am not sure where I want to go with this project. I know that I work best set parameters. It will make it easier to define what I am doing and to speak about what I am doing.
Please remember that I am thinking out loud. All is open to discussion and modification. I am inviting you to join the discussion now.
Where Do I Look?
My first thought is to define urban. Indianapolis has some fantatstic outlying birding spots — Eagle Creek Reservoir, The Indianapolis Museum of Art Grounds, Crown Hill Cemetery, Benjamin Harrison State Park and White River State Park are all fantastic green spaces with where a wide variety of birds can be found. I feel like including these areas would be cheating– these areas can produce some of the best birding in the state. I want to send the message that birds live and visit all parts of an urban environment. I want to raise bird awareness in schoolyards, skyscrapers, city parks, blighted neighborhoods, factories and warehouses and ignored waterways.
My plan is to draw a square around the city and work within this defined area. Without much thought I am thinking 38th Street on the North, Sherman Street on the East, Raymond Street on the South and Belmont Street on the West.
Whose Stories Do I Share?
In a project like this I want to make neighborhood connections. Connections with people. Who is bird aware? What do they see? Where do they look? How do they interact with birds. And, most importantly, what are their stories?
Emerging from this is a sense that I want to talk to the people of these neighborhoods about their experiences and carve from these stories. These kinds of connections make my work stronger and work to bring people together at many levels.
What Do I Produce?
This question may be the last to be answered and It may be answered many different ways. I’m not even going to give this much thought….yet.
I will explore ways to mount the birds in a way that reflects this urban theme, though I have reservations. I want to maintain that the same birds found in “nature” are the same birds found in the context of the city. There is very little difference.
I do need to visit the gallery space where this work will be shared and be mindful of how the space can be utilized to tell this story.
I want this to be a community building exercise. At this point I would like your ideas and thoughts. Nothing is nailed down at this point and your thoughts may help to shape the project.