December 2015, OSU Associate Professor and local artist Amy Youngs borrowed specimens from the Tetrapod Collection for her art installation for a BioPresence exhibition at OSU. The word “STRIKE” was spelled out with 116 bird specimens from our collection to commemorate the bird deaths resulting from collisions with human-made structures that occur every year.
Amy describes her motivation for the project:
“The project comes from my desire to see the world from the perspectives of other animals. As a human animal, I can never fully understand the experience of a bird, but as an artist I try to translate that effort in ways that speak to other humans and perhaps have some positive effect for birds. I began thinking about the window strike issue when I saw Angelika Nelson collecting a dead bird that had hit a window at the Heffner Building at the Olentangy Wetlands Research Park. I began asking questions about what birds see and don’t see and what is known about preventing the problem of building collisions. I thought about how many of the dead birds in the collection of the Museum of Biological Diversity could attest to the tragedy of human-built structures. What if the birds went on strike? What if we saw our buildings like birds did? Perhaps we would learn to build in ways that would allow us to become better citizens of the ecosystem.”
Collaborations between Art and Science like this one are an innovative way to raise awareness of environmental issues. In this case we focused attention on bird strikes. Artists and scientists can work towards creating unique ways to both increase building visibility for migrating birds and public awareness of the problem. Check out this project at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA for some inspiration. For now, we will keep using the bird collision study skins as outreach tools in education events on this pressing matter.
About the Author: Stephanie Malinich is Collection Manager of the OSU Tetrapod Collection.