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A Finery-Feathered Friend

August 16, 2016

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brightly colored woven sculpture of bird
Laurel Roth Hope, “Biodiversity Reclamation Suit: Carolina Parakeet,” 2009 Smithsonian American Art Museum

A Finery-Feathered Friend

Laurel Roth Hope uses humor to address the serious subject of species extinction in her “Biodiversity Reclamation Suits.” These crocheted suits allow common rock pigeons to masquerade as extinct North American birds—if not actually to “reclaim” biodiversity, then at least to give the appearance of it.

Using traditional techniques of carving, embroidery, crochet and collage, Hope transforms ordinary materials into elaborate animal sculptures that are both playful and poignant. Her work is influenced by her background as a park ranger and focuses on the relationship between humankind and nature, touching on topics such as environmental protection, animal behavior and species extinction.

This piece is currently on view in the exhibition “Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery.

Hope’s video featuring a crochet-suit-clad bird can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQPDGX068&index=34&list=PL94AA4771224B27E1