Art "For The Birds" Created by Rutgers-Camden Prof

Art "For The Birds" Created by Rutgers-Camden Prof

For Immediate Release

CAMDEN Nature is a valued source of inspiration for artists. But what have artists offered the natural world? Would a bird even like rock and roll?

Conceptual sculptor Elizabeth Demaray, an assistant professor of fine arts at Rutgers UniversityCamden, is testing the musical tastes of our fine feathered friends with an exhibition featuring four 10-foot red perches offering what are considered to be the best in classical, rock, country, and jazz for local birds.

Demarays concept of art for the birds hatched from a conversation with co-creator John Walsh, a video artist, who sent Demaray sounds made by the catbird, an avid appreciator of human noise. The Rutgers-Camden scholar makes art that interacts with natural surroundings - imagine spotting a tree donning a sweater or finding a rock upholstered as a baseball. She decided to find out if rockin robins do exist.

Humans have an impact on other animals around us. Catbirds and mockingbirds listen to noise we make, but we dont know if they might respond to human sound, says Demaray. While there have been no scientific studies on birds response to human music, anecdotal evidence suggests that certain species of bird listen to and replicate human song.

My interest with the piece was to get us to think about the impact we have on the other species around us, she adds.

The bird listening stations are part of the exhibition Inside/Outside: Habitat on view at the Abington Arts Centers Sculpture Park in Jenkintown, Pa., through Wednesday, Nov. 21. Visitors of the interactive exhibit receive a schedule of songs emitting from each station, which will repeat approximately five songs each.

Birds can tune in to classics like Vivaldis Concert in D Major, Miles Daviss Blue and Green, and Led Zepplins Kasmir. They may also hear songs about the winged life like Marching Jaybird by Etta Baker, Birds by Neil Young, and Im a Cuckoo by Belle and Sebastian.

If were going to give birds music, we might as well give them what we consider to be our masterpieces. But the only gauge humans have on whats good music is our own interest, says the Rutgers-Camden artist. Of course, we may find that birds have their own criteria for assessing our music. So, to see it they might prefer Miles Davis to the Dixie Chicks, you should come see for yourself.

Demarays fascination with perception originates from her early education in cognitive psychology and neuroscience at the University of California at Berkeley, where she earned a bachelors of science degree. She then studied art at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in New York, before returning to UC-Berkeley to earn her MFA.

The recipient of the 2001-2002 National Studio Award at the New York Museum of Modern Art and a 2005 New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellow in sculpture, Demaray has shown her work in museums nationwide. She joined the Rutgers-Camden faculty in 2005.