I was able to do a little shop update last night and wanted to talk a bit about this particular painting.
It’s special to me because of the meaning it carries. The magnolia is a valued flower in China, my primary ancestral background, and it represents luck and prosperity. There’s a little European starling nestled within its petals.
I learned about the story of how the European starling came to live in the US a few years ago while I was volunteering at the Brooklyn museum as a docent. The Walton Ford exhibit was breathtaking and came in a moment where I felt homesick for college (schoolsick?) and he used so many of these common birds in his paintings. I would sit in that majestic room, surrounded by these stunningly beautiful yet terrifying images for as long as I could. It was the literal best.
Anyway. The birds.
In the early 1890’s, a well intentioned group of Shakespeare fans thought it would be a lovely idea to release all the birds he had ever mentioned in his work into Central Park. These starlings were one of them. Unfortunately, it turned out that these particular birds were fairly good at surviving; they did it so well that they became thought of as pests due to how aggressive they’re perceived to be and how much they’ve multiplied since.
But at the end of the day, the way I see it is this: the starling was a foreigner wandering around in a strange land. Others even saw them as parasites. But despite the fact that they didn’t choose this place, they did more than just survive.