LOGAN SQUARE — A new sculpture meant to spread awareness about climate change and the impact it has on birds has landed on The 606.
The 40-foot-long sculpture, called “Birds Watching,” was installed Sunday just west of the Spaulding entrance on the north side of the elevated trail. It features the eyes of 100 different bird species that are either threatened or endangered by climate change in the United States.
Ukrainian Village resident Jenny Kendler is behind the sculpture, which she originally created for an exhibition in upstate New York.
The artist said she was thrilled to be given the opportunity to bring the piece to Chicago, where she’s lived for the past 14 years, and specifically to The 606, which she called the “perfect location.”
“The piece itself is intended to be outdoors in the natural environment. To be able to find a little oasis of parkland in the middle of the city is really special and valuable, a place where you’d be seeing migrating birds,” Kendler said.
The effort was a partnership between the Chicago Park District, the Trust for Public Land (the group that oversees The 606) and the Natural Resources Defense Council. It’s unclear exactly how much the installation cost.
In an artist statement, Kendler said the sculpture “asks us to consider our own responsibility for climate change’s myriad effects on other beings.”
“Have we allowed birds and other nonhumans — with their unique and wondrous lifeways — to become the sacrifice zones of extraction capitalism? As Surrealist André Breton suggested, in order to change ways of being, we must first change ways of seeing,” the statement reads.
The sculpture took about nine months to make, according to Kendler. The base is made of steel, and the eyes, which are reflective prints, are mounted on aluminum.
The majority of Kendler’s work tackles environmental issues, specifically endangered species and extinction, and, more recently, climate change. For this particular piece, Kendler drew inspiration from the National Audubon Society’s 2014 Birds and Climate Change report, which identified 314 bird species as being imperiled by climate change.
“All of my work is about human beings’ relationship with the natural world,” she said.
Kendler has another installation up in Chicago right now: “The Playhead of the Dawn,” a piece she created with her husband, Brian Kirkbride.
The piece, which is up at The Arts Club of Chicago at 201 E. Ontario St. through February, lets people hear the sound of dawn through bird songs. The pair used a “massive dataset of geo-tagged bird songs” to create a “planetary chorus.”
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