Alphabet Aviaries: Shadowboxes by David Montgomery
David Montgomery, an artist who studied landscape painting and sculpture in college, has had a varied artisan career. He's created scenery, design models and props for theatre and opera, was a cabinet maker and carpenter, built historic re-creations for museum installation, created special effects, animations, and miniatures for television and cinema and crafted elaborate scale models for a high-tech firm.
But now, David feels he's found the perfect outlet for those numerous talents making one of a kind, hand crafted wooden shadowboxes within which are narrative scenes containing small birds. He calls them "Aviaries."
Living in an arts and crafts house in southern Vermont with his frequent collaborator and wife, metal artist Karen Krieger and his young daughter, David seems to have found his niche. And now I get to share it with you.
The Alphabet series is a project that David started in late 2007. A planned series of twenty-six of his hand crafted Aviaries. Each shadowbox is composed on a different theme, chosen after he scoured the English dictionary for interesting words that conjured up visual scenes from his memory or imagination.
He had originally expected them to be simple, the whole set of twenty-six comprising the finished piece. But as each Aviary developed, he says they became more elaborate, complex, and time-consuming — and, he hopes, the better for it.
At present he has completed 15 of them - just over half-way through the Alphabet series, and expects to finish before the end of 2009. He even tucked the title of each piece somewhere within the artwork, some more hidden than others.
All of the above items are available (if not yet sold) here at Uncommon Goods.
David Montgomery - artist’s statement:
above: the artist at work
I think of each Aviary as a thin slice of a world, a window that leads to somewhere you've been or a place you'd like to go. The scene is never about birds, but the birds are nonetheless essential; they are your guides into my imaginary world.
A couple of years ago I began sketching ideas for dioramas and shadowboxes, around the same time that I found a pair of hundred-year old Audubon posters and some antique hardware at a local auction—the sole Saturday night entertainment near our rural home. These bits of the past provided inspiration for what were to become the Aviaries. In them I slightly alter the natural world, creating a place of mystery, romance, and occasional magic.
The Aviaries are limited edition or one-of-a-kind shadowboxes made of wood, brass, paper, glass, antique hardware, and various other materials. Backgrounds are sometimes ephemera collected in my travels, or are hand-painted in gouache, ink, acrylic or watercolor. The birds I cast in resin, using molds made from my original carvings, then I individually shape and hand-paint them. I carefully consider color, pose and placement of birds as the final step in construction.
Working Birds Studio