I discovered the work of Barbara Bosworth a year and a half ago, and ever since I posted images from her series One Star and a Dark Voyage and Natural Histories, they have stuck with me. The pictures are dark and haunting and they have remained some of my favorites. At the time I first saw them, I also took note of Bosworth’s Birds and Other Angels, a series of pictures equally arresting but completely different in tone.
These portraits of birds held gently in the hands of humans or during the moment of release were made “in northeast Ohio and middle Massachusetts during the spring migration. Researchers catch and then release the birds for the purpose of gathering data to study their behavior, monitor the population and to track migration routes.” The photographs portray each bird as “a wonderment,” “a flash of color,” a creature that appears all at once powerful, knowing, graceful, and otherworldly.
I love these sentiments from a statement Bosworth is writing about this body of work. They provide a poignant insight into the artist’s love and admiration for birds, something that’s clearly evident in the pictures she has made.
From the artist’s statement: “Up with me! Up with me into the clouds!” – William Wordsworth, “To a Sky-Lark”
The first image that entranced me as a child was a print from the 1930’s that hung on my bedroom wall as it had on my father’s childhood wall before me. It was of a young girl sitting, turned backwards on a bench in the woods looking up into a birch tree next to her, looking up at a robin. She was so close she could have reached out and touched it.
Later in life I learned of the paintings of Fra Angelico. In them I saw saints, palms turned toward heaven, at times it seemed reaching for the void, just reaching.
When my mother was failing with Parkinson’s and the dementia had its hold, she would reach out, upwards, as if to hold onto something from heaven. Once, a few years ago, while we were gathered around my father as he was dying, I asked her what she was reaching for [and] she replied ‘Oh! The birds!'”
Visit artist's site: barbarabosworth.com