Spring is always new and always the same. Spending time watching plants grow always returns you to some original time frame, early in life, staring out windows.
These paintings are inseparable from the timeframe of quarantine. I can look back at those months are stages of grief but there are always concurrent processes of bargaining and acceptance happening. Most of the world spent most of the year inside alone. Everyone got held back a grade. Does one necessarily return to their essential self when alone? The compulsion to record nature changing returned, or I had time to heed it.
Sprouting seeds in a fish tank as a greenhouse made it possible to observe natural processes of evaporation, condensation, growth and decay moving in short cycles. Becoming transparently occupied with the small processes of living, you notice light traveling from wall to wall in the course of a day, individual leaves lighting up and going out. The plants began to look life an example of life persisting in constrained circumstances. The apricot tree ineptly pruned was sprouting branches in the wrong places, contorted and fresh. There were exciting times when I captured a sudden rainstorm from life because I had nothing else to do. I felt like I could spend my days waiting to see something, and that the subjects were not objects but the light and water moving through them. The fusion is invisible.
I’ve always been concerned with the separation between inside and outside, trying to understand the world from one place that is limited. I never thought a picture was a window to look into, rather a window to look out of. Reading, observing, traveling I try to expand but there’s no guarantee of ever understanding anything.
Some people said that this year gave them time to catch up with themselves that they never would have found. I thought, if growth slows down, it isn’t all bad. How else would anyone ever expect to see a reduction in pollution. The sky is a little clearer. There’s nothing that bad about imagining a future without us, and that sets up the conflict between accepting decline and wanting to hold fiercely to some precious human thing. I thought, if things get really bad we might be forced to live by our convictions and will be better for it. Perhaps in retrospect it will appear that these fears were naive, or this hope is.
Rebecca Bird graduated from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 2000, having attended the Yale Summer School of Music and Art in 1999. She was a Fulbright Fellow to Japan in Painting 2000-1, researching traditional mediums. Her work concentrates around time recorded in material and animation of matter.
Bird has had solo shows at Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles (2019, 2017, 2015, 2011, 2009), Russel Day Gallery, Everett, WA (2017), Voookhyang, Seoul (2016), William Holman Gallery, New York (2015), Wave Hill, Bronx, NY (2003) and other venues.
She has performed at the Hammer Museum, The Armory Show, Fumetto Festival and Issue Project Room, and shown her animation at the Everhart Museum, Consolidated Works, Seattle and on Triple Canopy and The New York Times online. Her paintings have appeared in the Paris Review and Harper’s Magazine. She is the recipient of numerous grants and residencies.
In 2019 Bird completed Intent & Assembly, a 91 foot long commissioned painting for Building Cure, the new immunotherapy lab of Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Her work is held in public and private collections including MOMA, NY, Microsoft, Fidelity Investments, and Capital Group among others.
Bird has taught at The New School, Ghetto Film School and Cornell University. From 2007 to 2011 she drew Middle Kingdom relief fragments for the Metropolitan Museum on site in Dashur, Egypt. She has painted many carousels for amusement parks around the world.
Currently Rebecca Bird curates the artist run space Tomato Mouse in Brooklyn.