Dreams of flight
Chris Maynard’s upcoming exhibition Ruffled Feathers runs from July 20 to August 18, including an opening reception with the artist from 5 to 7 p.m. on the first night. This will be Maynard’s third consecutive solo show with Gerald Peters Gallery, allowing for more opportunities to dive headlong into the artist’s unique and innovative shadow box feather designs.
Since feathers are the only shapes he works with, Maynard says he has to be very strategic and creative in how they are placed compositionally. “Part of what I do is about respecting birds and wildlife, so I don’t plaster the feathers onto the backdrop,” says Maynard. Instead he uses insect pins, which are glued to a cotton-backed foam core, to pin up the feathers. This method also helps to create shadows, which Maynard says is a defining element in his work. Each work of art is entirely unique, and real feathers Maynard finds are meticulously trimmed using tiny eye surgery tools. “My medium is unusual,” he notes.
“His distinctive artworks continue to surprise and delight everyone visiting the gallery,” says Maria Hajic, director of naturalism at Gerald Peters Gallery. “His knowledge of birds, inventiveness and humor are expressed in the abundant creativity of his designs.”
For Maynard, birds and feathers are the quintessential symbols of flight. Although we each connect to the world in different ways, people from all cultures across the world can relate to the desire to fly, the artist explains. He adds, “I have always been interested in flight, but I’ve only ever been able to do it in my dreams.” Inspired by Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher, as well as Paleolithic art that connects directly to the earth, Maynard’s feather carvings are striking. Piercing the Veil shows off the vivid green of Amazon parrot feathers, while Raven Circle depicts a flock of birds in a swirling mass.
As to what each piece means, Maynard says he likes to leave most of the interpretation up
to the viewer. “All of the pieces have the same theme of transformation, which is big in my work,” he says. “It could mean something very sad to one viewer, and it could be very joyous to another.”
Raven Circle, male capercaillie tail feathers, 24½ x 19¼”
Mousing, heritage turkey feather, 11½ x 17½”
Chris Maynard at work in his studio.
Piercing the Veil, Amazon parrot feathers, 12 x 12”