Aaron Kirchhoff - USA
6 x 6 x2 Piping Plover eggs - Charadrius melodus
In the northern Midwest US, there is a regional colloquialism, “Lake life”, which refers to the pervasive annual summer lake culture dedicated to partying.
This phrase is a problematic collision of terminology; "Lake life" rightly refers to the native lake ecosystem, which suffers immeasurably by the human recreational use of these sensitive ecosystems. The endangered great lakes Piping Plover is offered no exception, as a bird who lays camouflage eggs on the shores in shallow nests in the sand called a "scrape". There are fewer than 8,000 Piping Plovers left on the North American continent in total (1).
This nest+ashtray-installation, built as a typical Piping Plover’s stone-scrape nest, seeks to represent of the incompatibility of human recreational use of fragile habitats in a metaphorical juxtaposition.
These Piping Plover eggs are 100% glass, including their base coloration and species-specific patterning, created using venetian-origin vitreous enamel materials and application and firing technique. The use of glass for this installation speaks to the fragility of the birds’ endangered status, and the sensitivity of an ecosystem under incomprehensible distress. In the sculpture, the implied narrative suggests the parent birds have been forced to abandon their nest, succumbing to the unrelenting advance of human footprint and surrendering their unborn eggs and nest to be used as an ashtray.
The installation was carried out on-site on a river shore in Northwestern Minnesota. No animals were adversely affected for the brief installation.
1. Lebbin, Parr, Fenwick, The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), P. 50