A public garden & cultural center

Sarah Nicholls

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

Pictured above: Sarah Nicholls, The Acclimatization Society, 2018, linocut and letterpress on paper, edition of 250, 9 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches closed, 9 ½ x 21 inches open, courtesy of the artist.

Sarah Nicholls creates pamphlets and ephemera that examine the history, community and ecology of New York City, as well as broader topics of climate change, urbanization and the history of science and technology. Her broadsides pair bold drawings and original text with a true desire to report. Flyway is part of a series that addresses concerns about the ecology of Jamaica Bay, from the varied species of birds and other animals to the development of the landscape.

Nicholls’ new limited-edition pamphlet, The Acclimatization Society, concerns local birds, their adaptations and survival tactics. She focuses on select native and introduced species, such as rock pigeons, red-tailed hawks, sparrows and European starlings, in their urban habitats. The pamphlet’s title refers to 19th-and 20th-century voluntary associations that encouraged the introduction of non-native species into locations worldwide. Her text also elucidates speciation, the process by which species adapt to circumstances, develop genetic mutations and, in time, evolve into new species. She discusses adaptive changes in birdsong, for example, and the genetic implications.

The subject matter of birds stems from Nicholls’ interest in field guides and old ornithological books, coupled with her experience of living in Brooklyn. As the artist explains, she “started thinking about nature in cities and how that works, and how people think nature is somewhere else, in a different distant more pristine place than Brooklyn, and that they are wrong about that.”


Pictured above: Sarah Nicholls, Flyway, 2017, linocut and letterpress on paper, edition of 200, 6 x 5 inches closed, 9 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches open, 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.