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"Birds In The Park" Flock To D.C.

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The traveling bird exhibit sets up shop at the Tune-up Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Christy Hengst
The traveling bird exhibit sets up shop at the Tune-up Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

By Rebecca Sheir

A new breed of bird is making its temporary home in Washington, D.C. The flock is actually a traveling art exhibit, inspired by the war in Iraq.

Visitors to the National Mall might notice something different today: a flock of white and blue birds, clustering on the grass.

From far away they kind of look like real birds just strangely still, says Christy Hengst, the Sante Fe-based artist who makes the birds out of porcelain. Then she covers them with cobalt blue text and images.

"I had saved a bunch of newspapers from the lead-up to the Iraq War," says Hengst. "So it started with me using them and altering them as I silk-screen printed onto the porcelain."

Hengst also silk-screens what she calls more mundane things: poems, recipes, photos of her children. She calls the exhibit, which she's taking on a self-funded tour across the country and abroad, Birds in the Park.

"Things like weapons capabilities can become everyday or ordinary, where you're really detached," she says. "I was thinking that sometimes people just treat it as something normal, like birds in the park."

Hengst says shes curious to see how Washingtonians react to the exhibit: whether they'll stop, stare and stay a while or walk on by, like any other normal day.


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