As my Fulbright time winds down, I have more sightings to share of human-bird connections past and present. One day the subway greeted me with photos of elegant birds of Taiwan. And near the famous Taipei 101 tower, a movie poster the size of a building reminds me that our urge to fly is often gratified by pop culture’s historic and futuristic tales.
In contemporary art, the Taipei Biennial this year focuses on environmental and social projects; one haunting kinetic installation recreates bird calls now missing from the streets of the city, using simple and very visible mechanical means.
And in much-renovated Taipei, a public sculpture mosaic seems to use the inviting birds-as-messenger motif to connect different worlds.
I was honored to visit the studio of an artist-teacher of traditional Chinese painting and watch Teacher Chiang in action. Viewing his confident brushwork, I was fascinated to learn he observed nature often and made many sketch-studies. Then the paintings can flow.
At the Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum, which keeps alive an important Taiwanese tradition, my search for bird-figures was rewarded with an Indonesian shadow puppet as well as a winged emblem made up of embroidered Taoist puppet costume and a carved wooden head.