Diana Majumdar Statement
I was initiated to bird watching by my younger sons’ natural interests in birds. He had asked for binoculars and book about birds on his 6th birthday. Soon after that, he and I were going on hikes armed with bird watching equipment and camera. Appreciation of birds offers me the potential moments of beauty and an inspiration. Watching birds on our walks led me to doing sketches and taking photos.
I was already experimenting with different media in my art, such as collage, chine cholle and encaustics. Birds became an essential element of my work. I am more interested in the birds that we see where we live: in a tree in the parking lot, or someone’s barn. Estuaries, reservoirs and wetland are places to look for birds, but we often take for granted the wealth of birdlife on our own doorsteps. As the urban and suburban areas keep growing replacing the natural habitat some disappear but some choose to stay and become part of our lives. The artificial concrete and steel ecosystems of cities support a surprisingly large number of birds.
In the series I am exploring the connections between humans and birds: nest that was build on the telephone pole or sparrows in the barn. I use variety of techniques and materials. I start out with an image or two that I like such as piece of wallpaper or a page from magazine. In “Gray Composition” there is a photo transfer of a vintage architectural drawing that I used for the background, then followed stucco that I found at a construction site, and also used joint compound. There is a juxtaposition of two homes: the building made by and for humans and tree branches where birds find shelter. I often incorporate found materials. In “Gathering” I used materials found outside for the collage elements. I use wax to fuse all the materials and layers together and achieve deep complex surface. Birds are all around us. We live together. My works are inspired by their beauty and our coexistence.
Mixed media approach allows me to practice all forms of art that I came to love. I feel fortunate that I don’t have to narrow my choices and specialize in one thing such as oil landscape or portraiture. Instead not only I am able to combine various mediums within one piece (for example using watercolors and Tombo pens on paper in one work), I can also combine work executed in different mediums by layering them: graphite drawing of the trees done in traditional style can be followed by a mono print done using standard printing technique which can be sealed in wax and the realistic bird/birds can be painted on top in oil. Each of these separate parts are traditional works but combining them is way more fun than leaving them as is on their own. The possibilities are endless.
Sometimes I start knowing exactly what the goal is, sometimes I just start with one object that caught my eye. It can be bright blue of the sky in the photograph on the cover of Bohemian Magazine, or a piece of vintage wallpaper sample. Sometimes I read something in the local paper that makes an impression. Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation has been supporting dedicated research about the Laguna’s bird populations. In one of their reports, I noticed that the song sparrow is one of the more numerous species. This impression stayed with me while I was walking on one of the trails. “Field of Queen Anne Lace” is based on this wild grass growing freely on the side of the roads all over Sonoma and Marin. If you slow enough while driving you will see the white blossoms glowing in the sun. The triptych “Song Sparrows in the Branches,” was inspired by a chorus of birdsong from the branches of a mighty oak. The host of sparrows was almost invisible due to the oak tree's foliage. “Oak Branches” is inspired by the impossibly bright leaves on the branch of fallen oak tree in Petaluma countryside. The saturated yellows, oranges seemed to glow when the sunlight hit them the certain way. I dragged the branch to the side of the road where I was able to take photos of it. The graceful arc of the branch and the colors of the leaves, though dead, is what I tried to capture in the painting.
Each piece is a process and a journey where I let things happen and surprises await.