Martha Casanave

When I was a teenager, I dressed in black and cawed at my friends. (Friend, more like.) When I heard the call of crows, I turned to look, as I do to this day, hearing something familiar. I have always “made friends” with a crow family on territories we share. These images depict my current extended crow family.

Many people despise crows. Some people shoot them. Crows are everywhere, they make a din when gathered in social groups, they eat raw meat, other creatures' eggs, our crops, junk food; their offsprings' hungry cries are ear-splitting and aggravating; they have big brains and speak in local dialects, and, let's not forget, they are black. Perhaps dislike of them stems from similarity to ourselves.

And yet crows and ravens, more than any other creature, are part of the art, language, literature, spiritual life and legend of all peoples, from the first time humans put their hands on cave walls. Corvids have adapted to human society, and as experts say, we have co-evolved culturally.

It's a mystery: where the attraction to (and repulsion of) crows and ravens comes from. They are primitively beautiful with their sleek feathers, long scaly legs, their large, expressive and functional feet and graceful pointed beaks. (I too have big feet and a long nose, albeit not aesthetically pleasing like those of crows.) I admire their purposeful lives. In spite of their intelligence, I doubt if they ever stop and ponder, “Why are we here?” I find this somehow and always reassuring, and so when I have doubts and discouragement about the purpose of life, I go to my crows.

Recently the idea occurred to me to combine the crow images with chemigrams. The chemigrams, a separate, concurrent body of work, are abstract. Yet they embody the dynamics that I associate with birds: texture, pattern, rhythm, smooth or sudden airborne motion, and even noise.

Processes: Digital imaging, chemigram
Mediums: Van Dyke brown prints, silver gelatin prints



















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