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Avian Art Studio

In the Avian Art Studio, we invite you to try your own hand at drawing or writing about birds while surrounded by inspiring specimens, field notes, an extraordinary “commonplace book,” feathers and creative prompts developed by Drexel’s Writers Room and many others.

Art and Observation: Illuminating Birds Art Studio
May 20 – Oct 15, 2023
Fridays and Sundays, 1 – 4 p.m.
Free with admission

Let your creativity soar! Be inspired by historical avian illustrations and discover how Academy educators and scientists use art to help make observations and elevate our understanding about the wonders of the natural world. Make and take a family-friendly, bird-themed creative project of your own. Explore scientific printmaking, photography or illustration, with a feathery flourish!

Illuminating Birds Saturday Events Series 
May 20 – Oct 15, 2023 
Select Saturdays, 2 – 4 p.m. 
Free with admission 

Join us in the Avian Art Studio for our Illuminating Birds Saturday Event Series. Come explore the Academy’s vast ornithological collections through guided hands-on workshops and demonstrations with local artists and writers and learn why they are inspired by our avian neighbors. Draw your favorite specimen or write a new poem about a connection you had with a bird in your community.

Learn how people who appreciate birds build a community centered around science, art, culture and engagement, and how you can join them in appreciating birds through drawing, writing, and other creative practices. We’ll have pencils and paper available, or you can use one of our coloring pages to guide you. All ages and art abilities are welcome in the Avian Art Studio!

Select Saturdays. Free with admission.

Saturday, August 5
With poet Ursula Rucker
2 – 4 p.m

Join poet Ursula Rucker for a drop-in writing workshop utilizing scientific A headshot of Ursula Rucker. bird specimens as a prompt to guide you. “Let us gather … in an uncommon common place … to share space, story and poetry … commonly … you know … TOGETHER … birds, beings, books … AND ALL … I’ll be your field guide.” –Ursula Rucker

Ursula Rucker (she/her) is a poet, recording artist, activist, teacher and revolutionary. Rucker is a certified veteran of the global music and poetry scene. A skilled writer and dynamic performer for nearly three decades, Rucker has used her fiery prose and invigorating imagery to excite and inspire listeners worldwide.

Saturday, September 16
With artist Nicole Rodrigues
2 – 4 p.m.

What knowledge do you think animals and plants hold?A headshot of Nicole Rodrigues.

Join us for a handmade "zine" workshop with visiting artist Nicole Rodrigues. We'll draw from the Academy's collection, examining different characteristics and personalities of birds and imagining how they communicate. You'll create a short story reflecting on what we can learn from our avian counterparts and create your own handmade book focused on connections between birds, other animals and plants.

Nicole Rodrigues (they/them) is an artist and educator living in Philadelphia. Their work includes making comics, prints, illustrations, screen printed shirts and ceramics about the connections we have to nature and our journey to self-actualization. Rodrigues’s work can provide visual insights on how people inhabit the world in their physical, mental and imaginary states while navigating destructive systems. Thank you to Partner and Sons for connecting the Academy with Nicole Rodrigues.

Saturday, September 30
With poet Sojourner Ahebee
2 – 4 p.m.

Between Hawk & Buzzard: A Writing Workshop in Black Flight

An image of Sojourner Ahebee Birds and bird imagery are featured prominently in African American cultural production of the 19th century, particularly as they relate to freedom songs, prayers, idioms and abolitionist speeches of the period. Flying is freedom, and for formerly enslaved people like Sojourner Truth, the process of learning how to fly again in the afterlife of slavery required an intentional process of repossessing one's value and sense of self outside the confines of the slave economy. In the 1800s, people would assemble visual and written materials from external sources and place them in a notebook they called "commonplace books." Through a series of generative writing prompts, a discussion of Truth's speeches, life, and legacy, and an immersive audio experience, we'll create our own commonplace books and map out the tools and materials that make our freedom possible.

Poet and audio storyteller, Sojourner Ahebee (she/her) archives moments of intimacy between Black women. She writes about insecurity of historical archives and insecurity as a feeling that connects us to our most powerful desires. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, NPR, The Academy of American Poets, MSNBC and on your grandmother’s radio. A recipient of the MacDowell Colony creative writing fellowship, her debut poetry chapbook, "Reporting from the Belly of the Night," was released in 2017.

This workshop is limited to 10 people and recommended for ages 18+. This event is free with museum admission. By registering, you are purchasing your admission. 

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Saturday, October 7
With artist Sarah Kaizar
2 – 4 p.m.

A photo of Sarah Kaizar infront of a small cabin with a sign that says 'Cedar Point Biological Station.'

Join illustrator Sarah Kaizar for an all-ages creative workshop exploring shape, color and light. Using a cluster of old-school overhead projectors, participants will create mini-ecosystem dioramas that will be projected onto the walls of the Illuminating Birds exhibit. Participants are invited to think about the role of stewardship and what species need in their surroundings to thrive.

Sarah Kaizar is a multidisciplinary illustrator and designer whose work has been seen in regional galleries and museums including the Woodmere Art Museum, Delaware Contemporary and the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. She is the author of HIKER TRASH: Notes, Sketches + Other Detritus on the Appalachian Trail, an illustrated work based on her hike from Georgia to Maine. Her second book will be released in September 2023, an illustrated work about North American bird conservation and citizen science titled RARE AIR: Endangered Birds, Bats, Butterflies and Bees. The companion art exhibition is currently on view at the Michener Art Museum through November 5, 2023.

Saturday, October 14
With artist Duwenavue Santé Johnson
2 – 4 p.m.

A photo of Sante Johnson wearing a dark blue dress.Learn needle-arts skills by making an applique illuminated bird patch. Create a unique silhouette design wool patch using different hand-embroidery techniques such as applique, back stitch, running stitch, holding stitch and leaf stitch, applying beads and sequins. Your one-of-a-kind design can be used to adorn many things like a jacket, tote bag or wall hanging.

Professionally, Duwenavue Santé Johnson (you can call her Santé) works as a full-time senior hand embroiderer in Philadelphia specializing in various types of hand embroidery, such as silk shading and both sides alike. One project takes her about 5 – 9 months to complete. Most of her work is created with silk or silk-blended materials. Outside of work, Santé’s art practice consists of working with textiles, paper, sewing and various printing and painting techniques. Creating, sharing and exploring through nature, color and texture is her passion. As a part of TSAPHILLY (Tiger Strikes Asteroid), she collectively curates, installs and shows here and abroad.