Rissa Berlin. Mixed Media & Collage

Birds have long been a source of mystery and awe. They inspire me to meaningfully connect with the natural world, admiring their majestic, winged beauty. I am especially drawn to waterbirds. Through time spent hiking and cycling near the marshes and waterways of New Jersey, I was moved by the sudden appearance of white egrets and herons. I marveled at their graceful and buoyant flight, as they took off and landed on the water.

 

Egrets form monogamous pairs, which moved me to create an image dedicated to my parents, who passed within a short time of one another. From there, I explored egrets and other birds, which combine beauty, humor and grace in their beings. Trough love and observation, the special spiritual symbolism of birds and the reality of their physical beauty and flight continue to inspire me.

 

History tells of mass slaughtering of waterbirds, particularly egrets and other waders to benefit the trade in hats and other decorative plumage. Thankfully, protecting waterbird populations has been a high national priority since John James Audubon’s art focused attention on the importance of bird life. This became true even before the establishment of the National Audubon Society in1905.

 

My images tell a story of birds against backgrounds that are often ordered, geometric and somewhat abstract. My themes combine the movement and spirit of these creatures with the ordered environments in which they must often coexist with people. These backgrounds are superimposed and combined in a way that suggests the mysterious affinity that now exists between birds and humans.

 

The stories that the images tell invite the viewer to connect with the symbolism of Movement, Order and Spirit, the last of which is the highest of values.

My connection to the equine world has its own special tale. Years ago, during my long commutes in South Jersey, I marveled at the early morning and late afternoon light as it reflected on vast farmlands and carefree grazing horses. Often stopping on the side of the road to photograph them, I quickly realized that I needed to experience a closer relationship with them. The only way to achieve this was to take riding lessons, thus beginning my entry into the equine world. Today I ride a beautiful mare who is now 29 years young. We have a very special connection and enjoy many rides together with sightings of bald eagles and migrating snow geese.

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