Written back in 03/07/2019. I wanted to share some of the ideas that went into my painting “Cornix.”
This is my ode to crows, most beloved of our common place scavengers. My love for them is both hilarious and sad in a old-cat-lady sense, and has been an endless source of amusiment for the people in my life. I will attempt to explain it here:
Crows are ambassadors and thieves. They fly between the wilderness and humanity and decode the secrets of both. I think this is inspiring to folks who feel alien in various aspects of life, and I’m certain this is one reason these corvids are loved by many people. Like many city dwellers, I often feel bereft of the natural world. At times when I feel the most removed from nature, one of these scamps will fly into my view to attack a pile of trash and it brings me a delight I can’t readily describe to you. My perspective is transformed in an unexpected, perhaps unhelpful way to see the oil slicks in the streets reflected in their plumage. Without their ravenous nature, that roadkill feast sustaining some excited squawkers would just be an animal robbed of it’s life by some asshole in a pickup truck.
When I see a small murder of them team up to ward off a massive bald eagle from their roost (a common sight here in western Washington state), part of me is inspired. It’s such a beautiful allegory of a world where community can surmount the threat of a larger authority. In an unjust world, it is something tremendous to see a murder everywhere
Anyway, these are just a few examples of the ridiculous things that go through my head as I watch these incredible birds. I honestly rewrote this a few times trying desperately not to sound like a sad, bird obsessed crazy person, but I give up and figure I’m just gonna roll with it. Every creature on this planet is worthy of obsession. Every nasty, little purifier and worm is fucking miraculous in their own right. We might as well revel in the glory of all of them now, we have already lost so many species due to human interference, and so many more to come as we sit here without solutions. The crows will outlast us, though. It’s scavengers that win the long-game of evolution. I take a strange comfort in the fact the crows will feast on humanity’s remains. Crows give me an odd joy in this maladjusted world. Wherever they go, crows bring a comforting paradox. They are the most charming little savages. I hope this painting does them some honor.
Cornix is part of my ongoing Familiars series and prints are available in my Etsy shop. Follow the link to get yourself some birbs!
1 A “corvia” or “corvia stone” or “crow stone” is a relic of medieval, European folklore. It was described as a red stone that could be procured from from a crows egg. It was believed to “increase wealth, bring honors, and permits the prediction of future events.”2 It was believed to have the power to turn iron into silver, as well as open locks, and obtain victory in court cases! As this extraordinary stone was ascribed so many qualities in common with crows themselves – and to acknowledge crows’ propensity to snatch up shiny objects – it felt like a necessary addition to my painting.
2Lecouteux, Claude, and Jon E. Graham. A Lapidary of Sacred Stones: Their Magical and Medicinal Powers Based on the Earliest Sources. Inner Tradition, 2012.