Students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago took a class trip to the city’s Field Museum for a natural history illustration class. The students had to draw three bird heads and three birds’ feet. Junior Michelle Flitman chose first the Rufous Hornbill, a bird native to the Philippines, for its thick legs. But her next subject would be a Passenger Pigeon. “It's an important note on the temporality of a species,” she said. “How [they] can go from millions, to now… they’re only here in a museum.”
Art Students at the Field Museum
Written by Mark Bramhill
Mark Bramhill: This is BirdNote.
Last November, some college students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago took a class trip to the city’s Field Museum. They were there for a natural history illustration class, doing studies of the museum's collection of more than 1,000 bird specimens. Students had to paint three bird heads and three birds' feet — and junior Michelle Flitman was really excited about this.
I am painting a Rufous Hornbill. Right now I'm studying the feet. I'm especially interested in how thick the legs are as opposed to other birds’, which have these, like, skinny little legs.
Right now I am doing the underpainting, so we're starting with blues and yellows to get the shadows and highlights. And, when we go over it in a top color, we're gonna try and figure out all the different tones.
Mark Bramhill: Michelle also knew what birds she was going to paint next.
Michelle Flitman: There's Great Auks over here, plenty of Passenger Pigeons. And I'm definitely going to be painting some of those because it's an important note on the temporality of a species and how something such as a Passenger Pigeon can go from millions and people sort of taking advantage of them to now … they're only here ... in the museum.
I think studying these birds sort of gives me a sense of appreciation and value for what we have right now.
Mark Bramhill: You can see a photo of Michelle and her painting of the Rufous Hornbill at our website, BirdNote.org. I'm Mark Bramhill.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2020 BirdNote July 2020 Narrator: Mark Bramhill
ID# fieldmuseum-01-07-31-2020 fieldmuseum-01