Thoughts on building an eagle’s nest

Posted on September 24th, 2012

Saturday dawned rainy in Pittsburgh, and I headed up the hill on the Chatham University campus to a small natural ampitheater outside the gallery which will house my exhibit, “InterRelated,” in honor of Rachel Carson. Last March I had chosen this natural sanctuary as the site for the eagle’s nest. I found the center of the circle suggested by the arc of the stone seats and placed my two Raku eagle’s eggs there on a bed of leaves I had woven with ivy vines. I made a circle of leaves about 8′ in circumference on thr wet ground around this center to describe the size of the nest. Students from the Art collective came filtering in and Corey, their teacher, arrived with a stash of deadwood he and his student Lexi had been gathering all week. We started weaving branches around the outer edge, but it was not until we made slits in the sod and drove heavier branches in at 45 degree angles around the perimeter that we had something to weave onto. Then the group worked quietly in their own ways, some wedging and angling bigger pieces, others weaving vines throughout to lash the pieces together. It grew organically up and cantilevered out, until we had a nest twice the size of a normal eagle’s nest, but resembling the haphazard yet sturdy arrangement of branches in the pictures I had shown them earlier. It was a collaborative yet meditative process. In the end, it became more exuberant as we collected the remaining smallwood on the ground and threw it in the middle making a bowl shape onto which went a final layer of rusty red dried ash leaves, creating a soft center and backgound color for the Raku eggs to lay in. Two women videographers captured our process. The President came by with her dog Sophie and two children of one of the staff, Emma and her brother, Ian. They helped too, rather solemnly, and I hope they return for the hunt in a week’s time, when the smaller eggs from the indoor installation will be hidden with messages from Rachel Carson to be found on campus by teams of art students and Chatham scholars.

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