Vacant Nests

In the Vacant Nests series I have gone beyond representational concerns to emphasize abstract qualities by photographing the subjects in a variety of positions and orientations, and eliminating background context. The exquisite natural form of birds and the fine detail of their anatomy inspired me to record these images. An abstract quality emerges when viewed up close, reminding me of Durer’s well known drawing of a blue wing. Audubon acted from a similar impulse when drawing his largest images—making the detail visible to his audience. 

I lived with zebra finches as chatty pets for a long time and never tired of their beauty. As the birds died I photographed them, along with many eggs removed from their nests. The finches were prolific and there were 20 to 25 birds for years. I had found homes for many of their hatchlings but had exhausted ways to do this. I also became concerned that the flock was becoming inbred. Facing the choice of introducing new birds or letting the population naturally decline, I began removing eggs. I accumulated lots of eggs and, over time, the remains of the older birds. I’ve chosen to remember them and share their beauty through these photographs. Examining each unique little being makes me think about the value of any individual—and even of life itself.


Edition: 20 + 2 AP. Size: 24 x 20 inches (61 x 51 cm). Prints made by the photographer on 100% rag paper.

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