By Ashley Lodato
It’s hard to spend time in the Methow Valley without noticing the presences of Corvids: those members of the Corvidae family like crows, ravens, nutcrackers and mapgies. In honor of their ubiquitous, mischievous presence, Confluence Gallery’s new exhibit, “In the Company of Crows & Ravens,” opens Saturday (March 13) and runs through May 1.
Jennifer Molesworth, who co-curates the exhibit with Caryl Campbell, says that these black birds are “cultured and ecologically fascinating. They’re around us all the time; they’re part of the human sphere, they like what humans do.”
“Corvids are totally meshed into our mythology and people really respond do them. They do something to us,” Molesworth says. The legend of raven bringing light to the world, for example, transcends cultures, depicting raven illuminating the all-consuming inky blackness of the world by releasing the light of the universe from a tiny box.
Planned a year ago, the exhibit was originally called “Corvids,” in celebration of that bird family. But as time went on, Molesworth says, “we realized the COVID outbreak was going to get our ‘Corvids’ name twisted up.” So they changed the name to “In the Company of Crows & Ravens,” with a nod to the book with the same title, by John Marzluff and Tony Angell.
An “astounding” amount of work is represented, says Molesworth, reeling off a list that includes familiar exhibitor names like Okanogan’s Dan Brown and Leavenworth’s Amber Zimmerman, as well as relative newcomers like poet Cindy Williams-Gutierrez, who has created a poem arranged like birds flying around a page.
“The show represents about 40 artists,” Molesworth says. “They’re from all over the state and region and they represent a range of mediums. There’s painting, photography, 3D. There’s a 5-foot tall magpie and a full-size felted raven.”
Although some see crows and ravens as dark or harbingers of death, Molesworth defends the birds. “They’re wonderfully smart and playful,” Molesworth explains. Corvids have all the colors of the spectrum between light and darkness, she adds. “Those birds are iridescent. It’s fascinating. They capture the darkness and the light.”
“The art in this exhibit doesn’t feel dark and heavy,” Molesworth says. “It feels like it’s part of life.” Artists, says Molesworth, have been responding to the contrasts between light and dark in the work they submit to the gallery for the exhibit. “It feels like they’re having a lot of fun with that – the contrast between light and dark. They’re keeping it playful and catching all the light.”
Concurrently, the “Wild Constellations” solo exhibit in Confluence’s Community Gallery space will feature Sumi paintings by Laura Gunnip: black ink paintings inspired by the constellations and astrology.
The two exhibits are open through May 1. For more information visit www.confluencegallery.org or call 997-2787.