Thursday, October 3, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, October 3, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Aperture Gallery hours and location:
Tuesday–Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday
547 W 27th Street, Floor 4
New York, NY 10001
Gail Albert Halaban (born in Washington, DC, 1970) received an MFA in photography from Yale University. She teaches at Columbia University Medical School in the Medical Humanities Department. She has been included in both group and solo exhibitions internationally, in venues including the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; Istanbul ’74, Turkey; and Podbielski Contemporary, Milan. Her books include Out My Window (powerHouse, 2012), Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views (Aperture, 2014), and Gail Albert Halaban: Italian Views (Aperture, 2019).
More than 350 species of birds pass through New York City each year, seeking out scattered patches of the city’s greenery. Today, more than one hundred are more permanent residents, painted on the walls of bodegas, barbershops, and other buildings of Manhattan’s northernmost neighborhoods. A collaboration between the National Audubon Society and Gitler &_____, the Audubon Mural Project has commissioned a spectrum of artists—from fine-art painters to graffiti artists—to create murals of imperiled birds, with each mural loosely based on the watercolors of John James Audubon, the pioneering nineteenth-century ornithologist. The murals are sited in and around the Washington Heights neighborhood, where John James Audubon lived and worked.
In 2019, at the initiative of Jill Fairchild, the artist Gail Albert Halaban was commissioned to document a selection of these murals before—given the transient nature of street art—they begin to fade or disappear. Albert Halaban’s resulting photographs place the murals within the context of the community. The photographs, like the murals themselves, serve to remind us that birds and people coexist, and that we both need a healthy environment in order to survive. As the planet warms, many bird species will be vulnerable to extinction; the Audubon Mural Project not only beautifies the neighborhood, it also serves as a fresh, surprising way to bring attention to a critically important conservation crisis.
“I first became aware of the the Audubon Mural project on PBS. I went up to Harlem immediately to see these amazing paintings done on walls and shutters by artists from all over the world. I loved coming back to see as new birds were added. I thought there should be an artistic and documentary record of the murals, and an exhibition, because these murals are ephemeral, soon damaged by weather or graffiti, and to spread awareness about the project, and the fragility of our bird population. Many of these birds are now endangered species.
“Our lives are enriched by the diverse beauty of birds, and their song. So now, let us celebrate the birds of Harlem.”
– Jill Fairchild
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive.
Works featured in this exhibition are available for sale, with proceeds benefiting the National Audubon Society and supporting Aperture’s publishing and public programs.
For more information about the Audubon Mural Project or to sponsor a future bird mural, visit audubon.org/amp.
This exhibition is made possible with the generous support of Jill Fairchild.