By Kim Jackson
For Vashon Center for the Arts
Vibrant birds are spreading their wings in Vashon Center for the Art’s Heron Meadow as part of a collaboration between the VCA, Vashon Audubon and Vashon Nature Center.
The Vashon Mural project will showcase paintings of eight climate-threatened birds of the Judd Creek Watershed. Appearing on the 120-foot wall at the west edge of the meadow behind the VCA, the mural is spearheaded by three island women: Julie Burman, the president of the Vashon Audubon, Britt Freda, a well-known local artist and VCA board member and Bianca Perla, the leader of the Vashon Nature Center.
The project was imagined by Burman and inspired by an Audubon Mural Project in Harlem, New York, which created murals of climate-threatened birds throughout John James Audubon’s neighborhood.
“On Vashon, art and nature are at the heart of our island — we have an incredible wealth of permanently protected habitat due to the perseverance of our islanders, the land trust and others,” said Burman. “I would like people to enjoy Britt’s art, learn about birds and climate change and the risk to birds, and to find their own ways to reduce their carbon footprint to improve our native habitat.”
Freda created the mural birds in her distinctive style of conveying realism to abstraction in nature. The island birds are meant to evoke movement and life.
“The pattern of the birds is circular and overlapping and an illustration of the way things work in life,” said Freda.
When asked about her vision for the mural, she said it was all about the intersection of art and community partnerships.
“It is important to create hope and inspiration and for people to fall in love with what they see,” she added. “When people care about something…love and attachment are more likely to encourage support and action.”
Freda’s Swainson’s Thrush is nearing completion and joins the Rufous Hummingbird on the mural wall.
Freda can be found every other week painting in the meadow. She welcomes people to visit Heron Meadow as new birds take flight on the mural and in the meadow. Freda will work on the project for approximately 16 weeks in the meadow and her studio.
Upcoming planned days for painting are July 27 to 31, Aug. 10 to 14, Aug. 24 to 28, Sept. 8 to 11 and Sept. 21 to 25.
When complete, the mural will feature eight birds at risk on Vashon including the Violet-green Swallow, Rufous Hummingbird, Stellar’s Jay, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Bufflehead, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Sharp-shined Hawk and Swainson’s Thrush. More information about all these birds can be found at Audubon.org.
The Heron Meadow forms part of the headwaters of Judd Creek, Vashon’s largest salmon-bearing creek. Due to efforts of the Vashon Nature Center, the Heron Meadow is becoming a sanctuary for native wildlife.
“I am very excited about the mural in the meadow,” said Bianca Perla, Vashon Nature Center’s director. “Heron Meadow is at the heart of the island’s center, making it easily accessible for all to enjoy. It fits in so well with what all partners want this place to become: a beautiful place for the island community to gather and learn about island animals and plants, the watershed and art.”
According to Perla, the mural “represents the tremendous care the Vashon community has for the island we love, including our birds, and symbolizes hope for the future that we want to leave for the next generation.”
Donations can be made to support the mural, and the organizers’ hope for a healthy bird-filled future for children on Vashon and beyond, by sending contributions, of any size, to Vashon Audubon, P.O. Box 838, Vashon, WA 98070, or via vashonaudubon.org/mural. On the website, there is more information about the project.