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Birds were always a part of Chris Maynard’s childhood. As a young person, he took refuge in the woods around his home in Washington State where, his head nestled in moss, he watched the birds up in the tall trees. He began working with feathers at age 12. Today, Maynard carves feathers into intricate art in order to make their natural beauty more noticeable. His work highlights the patterns and colors of the feathers themselves, inviting the viewer to look and look again. For him, feathers represent flight, transformation, and a bridge between our present lives and our dreams.
Maynard works with feathers from turkeys, parrots, peacocks, and other birds and crafts them into scenes that are displayed in his world-renowned shadow boxes. A conservationist at heart, Maynard’s feathers are legally obtained. Many of the feathers are naturally shed which means that the birds they came from may still be alive today. Since feathers are universal symbols of flight, transformation, achievement, and hope, Maynard’s art speaks to many people who long for these qualities as well as people who revere birds.
I mount the feather cutouts using stainless entomology pins so their curves and shapes are set in relief against the backdrop. This allows me to incorporate shadows—which change depending on the intensity, quality, and direction of light.
– Chris Maynard
Maynard’s work is included in private collections and featured in publications in North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. His 2014 book, Feathers, Form & Function, highlights his work and tells stories about what feathers are, what roles they fill for birds, and why people find them alluring.