I grew up in the suburbs of New York City in a two story colonial, newly built, in a small subdivision surrounded by fields and forest. It was not my grandparents’ house. Nor my great grandparents, and as soon as most of the kids were grown and the folks divorced, the house was sold to the next middle class growing family.
My husband Jon on the other hand, had grandparents who owned an apple farm in upstate New York and had been going there since BEFORE he was born. The first time I visited, I felt like I was home. Everything on the property reeked with history – the creaky old furniture, the smell of the creosote in the fireplace, the dusty botanical books lining the shelves. Although his Grandpa Herman had been dead for many moons, I could almost feel his spirit lurking amid the stately trees, the cozy stone house and the ever-changing color of Lake Ontario.
But all that came to an end. After Jon’s Mom died and tons of family turmoil, we prepared the house to be sold.
That’s when we encountered the birds on our traditional lakefront walk. First there was one, then two, then twenty all lying in puddles of blood in the field adjacent to the lake and between the orchards. The field had a “resting tree” a giant maple planted in the center for the farmers to escape from the blazing sun in the summertime. Under the tree were shotgun casings – lots of them and dead crows hanging by fishing line from the branches of the tree. Now when a crow dies, the living crow holds a sort of funeral and will gather around the deceased. For more info check out the documentary
The people who literally murdered these crows baited them and targeted them for amusement.
Then we saw the pile. More than a hundred dead crows left on the beach to rot. I was so upset by this, that I decided to photograph the carnage and these paintings are the result. To me, the death of the birds echoed the heartbreak of losing our home. I did not necessarily want the viewer to experience the horror I felt, but the sense of honor I wanted to bestow on them.