Of Birds and Men

Of Birds and Men is a series of 27 portraits of men in power accused by women of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and sexual assault, facing a bird with the same letter as their name. There is one portrait for each letter of the alphabet, A-Z, and a final portrait that is a generic bird and man, allowing the viewer to insert their own bird or abuser into the series. Each bird is precisely painted with watercolor and the men are drawn with pen and ink, creating full color birds contrasting with the black and white portraits of the men.

 

This work is meant to represent a dialogue between mother nature (bird) and mankind (man), a gentle reckoning from a higher power. Birds are harbingers of ill deeds, like the canary in the mine, they alert us to problems through their heightened sensitivity. They are delicate, beautiful and surprisingly fierce, and seem up to the task of facing these men and holding them accountable for their actions. 

 

These specific men are not important, other than to show how pervasive sexual abuse is in our power structures. They are stand ins for all the men A-Z who have abused their power against women. Part of this dialog is to look at the relationship between how we treat women and how we treat the environment. The same abuse, neglect and disregard is perpetrated against both, by men in powerful positions. 

 

Although the bird and man are facing each other, the bird is actually looking at the viewer, because non-predatory birds have eyes on the side of their head. My intention is to bring the viewer into the dialog. Ultimately, we are all responsible for creating culture, and we all can be part of the conversation, as well as the solution.

 

-Laura Milkins

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