With the holiday season upon us, Bicycle Fine Art caught up with artist Chad Fonfara, to discuss his Condemnation print series, depicting groups of deceased birds. At times shown huddled together in a vague mass of bird bodies, or laid out in a row, the prints are inspired by a real-live event in Arkansas, where thousands of red-wing blackbirds fell inexplicably to their deaths. The “digital sketches,” as Fonfara refers to them, are based off of his own beautiful glass-blown sculptural dead birds, which he uses as models for the prints.
While at first the Condemnation works may seem a peculiar pairing with joyful festivities, historically, dead birds have been a staple of Christmas card decoration. Victorian Christmas missives often featured daintily colored vignettes with a bird, frequently robins but sparrows and wrens as well, peaceful in post mortem on their front. Theories on the back-story behind these cards vary; some say they were part of a good-luck ritual killing of birds around the solstice, some that they played on Victorian cultural sensibilities to pity and tenderness, and others, that the images were meant to remind both the sender and receiver of their own mortality.
The last explanation finds a correlation in Fonfara’s prints. Condemnation isn’t fueled by morbidity, but by the implication that the disaster has on human frailty. “I think what it came down to is that it shows the fragility of them, the mortality of them. I found it affirming to see the fragility of them,” Fonfara notes. Like the Victorian depictions, the pieces are emotive and mysterious, but their bursts of bold black, red, and yellow, make them a real statement. They are stark, wonderfully contrasted, and do not tiptoe around their complexity.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Bicycle Fine Art!
A full interview with Fonfara on the digital sketches, his glass blowing practice, and further first-hand insights into the focus of his work will be released later in the spring.
For information and pricing about this print or to see other images from this series, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org