A public garden & cultural center

Jenna Spevack

Avifauna: Birds + Habitat
Glyndor Gallery |
April 7–June 24, 2018

Pictured above detail: Jenna Spevack, Wind on the Wing, 2018, pinwheels, audio, projection, dimensions variable, courtesy of the artist. Photo: Stefan Hagen.

Artist and educator Jenna Spevack created Wind on the Wing, an installation that samples commonly heard, local Bronx birds specifically for this exhibition. Installed on the outside of a gallery window, 12 wind-driven pinwheels influence the sound recordings that are heard through the headphones inside. The wind speed alters the sounds, which vary from soothing and calm to dissonant.

For each bird, Spevack samples a frequency of its recorded birdsong to create a tone that is layered with the original. Each pinwheel drives a singular birdsong and associated tone. Projected images display close-ups of the two loudest birds heard in the audio at any given time. The speed of each wind-turned pinwheel regulates the variations in the projection and the audio. When the pinwheels are still, an automated modulation gradually changes the sounds and images.

The bird species selected are the house finch, red-winged blackbird, northern cardinal, dark-eyed junco, white-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadee, blue jay, northern flicker, downy woodpecker and mourning dove. Spevack’s interest in birds stems from her ongoing Birds of Brooklyn project, which focuses on the sounds of extinct and endangered birds.

Inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s statement “I have felt the wind on the wing of madness,” in Wind on the Wing Spevack explores the capriciousness of natural and built environments. The installation calls attention to the connection we have lost to the natural world — as well as to the potential physiological and emotional impact of that loss.

Spevack’s work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, at Woskob Family Gallery, Penn State University; Pulse Miami; Mucius Galéria, Budapest; and in New York at Governors Island, BRIC, Smack Mellon, Mixed Greens and White Columns, among others. She has a BFA in Printmaking from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and an MFA in Painting/Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design. She is a Professor of Communication Design at the New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York.

The artist thanks Brett Peterson for computer programming.


Pictured above: Jenna Spevack installation view: Wind on the Wing, 2018, pinwheels, audio, projection, dimensions variable, courtesy of the artist. Photo: Stefan Hagen.

An exhibition catalogue published on the occasion of Avifauna: Birds + Habitat is available here.

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.