Jess RosenbergNew Works

This body of work is a direct result of the year 2020.  Art is a response to place and time.  While pondering 2020, and how unexpected and horrendous it was, I chose black clay and black birds to express the year.  There were a few positive events and movements in 2020, and the raven also encompasses those.

Ravens/crows/black birds:  a flock of ravens is an unkindness; of crows, a murder.  A murmuration is just magical.  Throughout history, these birds have represented loss, ill omens, prophesy, insight, recovery, healing.  They are the keepers of secrets, messengers between earth and the heavens, the creator of the world in Native American stories, the trickster, and the connection to one’s ability to shift states of consciousness.

The world has been experiencing all manners of nightmarish events and needs help with recovery and healing.  And so, the birds.

As a young child, while hiking in The Tetons National Park, I was ambushed by a pair of big black birds who rushed out of the bushes on the trail, bit my ankles, laughed, and ran off.  It was wondrous and began my love of the big black trickster birds.  They are smart, curious, perceptive, mischievous, and physically magnificent.  They have stayed with me for decades, as muse, totem, and sculptural subject.

The pieces in this show all play with the moods of these spirit animals.  I chose obsidian black clay, which, when burnished before firing, has a sheen conducive to the birds and the year.  Two of the covered vessels could easily be used for rituals and evoke the magic of the ancient pottery of the Americas.  They are not anatomically accurate but aim to capture the personality of the birds.

About 40 years ago I visited the Viet Nam Wall Memorial Wall in Washington DC.  It was enormously powerful and had a lasting effect on me.  I created a piece in response to 2020 that relates back to the wall.  It needed to be made.

And, so, this show is a reaction to time and place and past influences.  Bird ambushes, extensive travel in the southwestern US, bird watching, impact of powerful monuments, appreciation of past civilizations; all these are mentally archived and drawn upon as needed for inspiration.  My job is to select the appropriate medium to express myself. 

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