The Lost Bird Project
with Todd McGrain & Victor Emanuel
More Info About This Free Event Coming Soon!
About the Film
Gone and nearly forgotten in extinction, the Labrador Duck, the Great Auk, the Heath Hen, the Carolina Parakeet, and the Passenger Pigeon leave holes not just in the North American landscape but in our collective memories. Moved by their stories, sculptor Todd McGrain set out to create memorials to the lost birds—to bring their vanished forms back into the world. The Lost Bird Project follows the road-trip that McGrain and his brother-in-law, Andy Stern, take as they search for the locations where the birds were last seen in the wild and negotiate for permission to install McGrain’s large bronze sculptures there.
The film is directed by Deborah Dickson, whose previous films have been nominated three times for Oscars, and is produced by Muffie Meyer, whose previous directing credits include the original Grey Gardens documentary and several Emmy award-winning documentaries. The score, composed by Grammy-winner Christopher Tin, is a stirring tone-poem for chamber orchestra, evoking the majesty of these flocks of birds, and the pathos of their eventual demise.
Traveling all the way from the tropical swamps of Florida to Martha’s Vineyard to the rocky coasts of Newfoundland over a period of two years, McGrain and Stern scout locations, talk to park rangers, speak at town meetings and battle bureaucracy in their effort to gather support for the project. McGrain’s aim in placing the sculptures is to give presence to the birds where they are now so starkly absent. “These birds are not commonly known,” he says, “and they ought to be, because forgetting is another kind of extinction. It’s such a thorough erasing.”
The Lost Bird Project is a film about public art, extinction and memory. It is an elegy to five extinct North American birds and a thoughtful, moving, sometimes humorous look at the artist and his mission.
McGrain’s next sculpture is of the Eskimo Curlew which will be installed on Galveston Island where the species was last seen.
About Todd McGrain
Todd McGrain has been a sculptor for over 25 years. During this time he has received a number of grants and awards including the Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. McGrain has permanent sculpture installations at the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York; St. Paul Sculpture Park, St. Paul, Minnesota; Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, Okeechobee, Florida; Brand Park, Elmira, New York; Grange Audubon Center, Columbus Ohio; Kohler Art Center, Kohler, Wisconsin; Museum Civico Zoologia, Rome Italy. For the past ten years, McGrain has been directing his strengths as a sculptor toward the Lost Bird Project. He is the artist-in-residence in the Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University. For more about the artist, please visit his website: toddmcgrain.com
About Victor Emanuel
Victor Emanuel started birding in Texas 69 years ago at the age of eight. His travels have taken him to all the continents, with his areas of concentration being Texas, Arizona, Mexico, Panama, and Peru. He is the founder and compiler for 50 years of the record-breaking Freeport Christmas Bird Count, and served a term as president of the Texas Ornithological Society. Birds and natural history have been a major focus throughout his life. He derives great pleasure from seeing and hearing birds, and sharing with others these avian sights and sounds, both the common ones and the more unusual ones. He initiated the first birding camps for young people, and considers that one of his greatest achievements. Victor holds a B.A. in zoology and botany from the University of Texas and an M.A. in government from Harvard. In 1993, he was the recipient of the Roger Tory Peterson Excellence in Birding Award, given by the Houston Audubon Society in recognition of a lifetime of dedication to careful observation, education, and addition to the body of avian knowledge. In 2004, he received the Roger Tory Peterson Award from the American Birding Association, and the Arthur A. Allen Award from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Victor is a past board member of the Nature Conservancy of Texas, the National Audubon Society, the American Bird Conservancy, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. In May 2017, the University of Texas Press published his memoir, One More Warbler, A Life with Birds.
Victor was one of the last to see the Eskimo Curlew on Galveston Island in the 1960s.