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Meet Stacie Birky Greene

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stacie Birky Greene.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I grew up in Colorado, at the age of 4 my parents moved my sister and me to a small farm on what was then open plains and is now a suburb of Denver. Growing up raising chickens, rabbits, and ducks; riding horses and tending the garden; as well as hiking and skiing gave me a deep connection with nature which has always informed my work. I decided to become an artist as a 6th grader living in Colorado Springs. At that time I had my own struggles emotionally and academically, and art was and is the way I worked through them. I’m not sure I would have made it through school if not for art. The next year my family moved to Maine. I was fortunate enough to have parents who supported my artistic endeavors, enrolling me in many art classes, driving me once a week to the Portland School of Design. I was also fortunate to spend many hours building various projects with my father in his wood shop and learning to sew with my mother. This allowed me to become comfortable working with a variety of media, which I still do today.

When I started at the University of Kentucky, I thought I would become a graphic artist, though I quickly learning it was too sterile for me — I really need to get my hands dirty. So I switched to painting, while also exploring clay, performance art, and photography. After college, I got married and moved to San Diego. I was fascinated and inspired by the stunning beauty and diversity of the local landscape and its incredible vegetation. Eventually, I also discovered that there is a rich and vibrant arts community in San Diego, and I’ve been really fortunate to show with wonderful artists and friends over the past couple of decades. For the past 12 years, I’ve worked with Arts for Learning San Diego as a Teaching Artist, through which I teach in the schools as well as community workshops, allowing me to teach all ages. The best part of teaching is I am constantly learning new techniques.

Please tell us about your art.
I have always been preoccupied with the natural world, which continues to be the main subject of my artistic work. I find myself particularly drawn to the paradoxical issues of nature’s power and fragility, and its often-fraught relationship with humanity. This led me to my current project exploring endangered birds and, more recently, birds that have become extinct in my lifetime

Human consumption and waste are conspicuous threats to the environment, and for my project to have a sufficiently pointed critique, it was important to choose materials that were compatible with the narrative. Thus, I have drawn my series of endangered birds on paper I made from junk mail delivered to my home. For my series on extinct birds I have drawn on reclaimed wooden rectangles that are tiled to form a mosaic – a fragmented image represented a lost species. I have also made a series of Specimen Drawers, after the drawers of animal skins, eggs, skulls, etc. found in Natural History Museums. These, too, use recycled and found materials.

In some ways, the series has allowed me an opportunity to return to one of my first loves: drawing, and it’s strange that there is so much joy and beauty in a project that really is quite dark and tragic. Because I document the circumstances that have led to the subject bird’s extinct or endangered status, there’s a lot of information to examine while encountering a painting or drawing. At the opening event at my exhibit at the Encinitas Library, which features more than two dozen works, some visitors remarked that the pieces were beautiful but that the cumulative effect of the show was one of sadness and loss. I’m interested in this sort of tension.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
I think Tom Waits summed it up very well when he said “I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.” It’s certainly not up to me to determine how others should pursue their place in the world, and I don’t think that current circumstances have necessarily placed artists with any more or less responsibility than they have always had to represent the time and place they live in with ideas and images. I’m compelled to make art whatever the circumstance, but I have to say that I have found a sense of mission in developing my projects out of concern for the environment. This has been heightened over the past couple of years as the EPA has been defanged by the errand boys of major polluters and the US has pulled out of climate agreements. For the time being, we appear to be left with a bottom-up approach, in which we as individuals must do what we can to consume less and waste less, and eventually, together, steer public institutions to protect and defend the environment for the common good.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I currently have a solo show up at the Encinitas Library until January 26th. I have several other exhibitions in the works for 2019 and 2020. Including a group show at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido (CCAE) “Endangered: Exploring California’s Changing Ecosystems” January 11-March 8, 2020. My website also has most of my work as well as updates on upcoming shows. You can also find my work on www.saatchiart.com.

Contact Info:

 
Image Credit:
All Images by Stacie Birky Greene

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