A public garden & cultural center

Gabriel Willow: Ecolegiac: Missing Birds of NYC

January 30 - June 17, 2018
Wave Hill House

Pictured above: Labrador Ducks in NY Harbor, 2017, photo and drawing on vellum in pencil & conte crayon, 24 x 36 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

“When an individual is seen gliding through the woods and close to the observer, it passes like a thought, and on trying to see it again, the eye searches in vain; the bird is gone.”

                                         – John James Audubon, writing on the passenger pigeon


Gabriel Willow's Ecolegiac: Missing Birds of NYC imagines some of the bird species now missing from New York’s landscape that have been—figuratively and literally—drawn back into it. ‘Ecolegiac’, an amalgamation of ecology and elegiac, is a term coined by Willow as a lament for bird species missing from this area. Across the continental United States, there are about nine species of birds that have disappeared since the 1800s. Of these, five may have once occurred in what is now New York City; the Labrador duck, the Carolina parakeet, the great auk, heath hens and the passenger pigeon. By examining museum specimens, Willow has used his knowledge of living related species to inform the bird representations. He speculates about a future when ‘de-extinction’ could bring them back to New York City. Willow has drawn these missing birds on vellum that is overlaid on photographs of present-day New York where these species might have been found.

Gabriel Willow is an artist and naturalist with a particular passion for birds. He explores the confluence of the human and natural environment in urban settings and shares these places with the public through lectures, tours, and artistic collaborations. He has collaborated with artists such as Mary Miss, Nina Katchadourian, George Trakas, and others exploring urban design and natural history. He also is an illustrator and DJ. Since 2004, Willow has led bird and nature walks for adults and families as Wave Hill. Join him on the second Sunday of the month at 9:30AM. He has also been an advisor to the curatorial team for Avifauna: the Interplay of Birds & Habitat, on view in Glyndor Gallery starting on April 7.

Pictured above:Carolina Parakeets, Union Square, 2017, photo and drawing on vellum in pencil & conte crayon, 24 x 36 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Pictured above: Great Auk in Wallabout Bay, 2017, photo and drawing on vellum in pencil & conte crayon, 24 x 36 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

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.