27 July 2023
Deborah Kruger maps the
nature of disappearance
by Kate Mothes
When a bird appears well outside of its normal range, it’s often called an accidental—or a vagrant. And we know what they’re called when they disappear altogether. In elegant mixed-media compositions, artist Deborah Kruger examines ideas around native life and culture, including both wildlife and people, with a focus on transformation and irrevocable loss. She cuts thousands of feathers from recycled plastic bags which are then hand silk-screened with lettering or drawings, piecing together figments of language and imagery that reflect how the machinations of globalization are depleting indigenous populations and culture.
Kruger’s feathered pieces swirl across broad expanses and in the form of traditional garments like kimonos or robes, and installed on the wall, they drape like a display of historical artifacts. In her most recent body of work, the artist employs the outlines of nations like Japan (Kansai), Colombia (Casanare), and Cambodia (Habitat) to map areas where bird populations have been majorly disrupted. “These maps are of countries or places where habitat fragmentation has contributed to the loss of bird populations and also indigenous cultures,” she says. “Both birds and humans are at risk when their places of nesting and regions where they reside are threatened by climate change and development.”
Along with one other, Kruger’s piece Accidentals was recently added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, and you can find more work on her website and Instagram.
© Deborah Kruger, courtesy of the artist
Header image: Detail of Accidentals