[Slide text: INK DWELL; Photo: Mural of bighorn sheep running from mountain lion] 

[Audience talking] 

[Lisa] Hi everyone. Welcome to tonight’s Monday night seminar. I’m so excited to see you all. Um my name is Lisa Kopp, and I am the visitor experience manager here at the Lab of Ornithology, and I’m thrilled to be able to welcome our speaker Jane Kim tonight. 

Before we get started with that, um a couple of quick notes. Number one we are live streaming tonight’s event, so if you want to share it with your friends and family afterwards you can go to our website and get that link. For those of you who are tuning in via live stream, I’d encourage you to come here to the Lab to actually see what we’ll be talking about live and in person. It’s absolutely incredible and you don’t want to miss it. 

So um to get on to the main event, we are so privileged to be able to have a bonus Monday night seminar. This was just added a couple of weeks ago, and obviously the packed house is is an indication of how excited everyone is to hear about this. 

So Jane Kim, our speaker, is an absolutely incredible person who has completed, actually, um just recently. I think today? 

[Jane Kim] Yesterday.

[Laughter] 

[Lisa] Yesterday. Um an absolute masterpiece, which I’m glad to see so many of you took the time to look at it before the talk. 

Obviously we’d encourage you to spend time afterwards checking it out as well. 

So this piece is really unrivaled in terms of size and scope. It contains 270 different species, tracing the history of evolution of the birds. And you’ll see from Jane’s presentation today that what she, what she did was really something that has never been done before. 

Jane is a, is a science artist by training. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design, and then the uh Cal State Monterey Bay uh art school as well, where she got a certificate in science illustration. 

She also was a Bartels science illustration intern here at the Lab of Ornithology, so she has a long history with the Lab. Um and what you’ll hear about tonight is the process that has taken two and a half years to to complete, and the back story of why this is so significant not just to the Lab of Ornithology, but to the art world as a whole. 

So if you could join me in welcoming Jane Kim.

[Applause] 

[Jane] So I, maybe you guys don’t recognize me as Jane Kim outside of my overalls and my head scarf 

[Laughter] 

and, and I was actually debating whether or not if I should just come in my quote unquote uniform, but you know, in going to my local dry cleaner, and I’m greeted with oh I didn’t recognize you outside of your overalls, I thought well maybe it’s time to change it up 

[Laughter] 

and so I’m actually really excited to be here in normal attire today. And, and it’s bittersweet, well you know and now tomorrow, starting today, and from the day’s moving forward I’m actually going to have to pick out what I wear every morning. 

[Laughter] 

So it’s going to be my biggest concern from moving forward. But um, before I begin my presentation, I just wanted to say a few thank yous, really important thank yous. And that’s first to the team of artists that actually helped me produce this, and there were seven assistants that helped me throughout the year. 

Um I don’t know if they’re here, some of them are here tonight, so if you are here tonight can you just stand up real quick for me. Oh there’s one back there too.

[Applause] 

Um, yep, so that’s No—, Nola, Nola Booth and Emma Regnier and Misaki Ouchida, and they all have challenging last names [laughs] 

[Laughter] 

and so that’s just three of the four, or seven that were that were working with me. So thank you for coming, it’s great to have you, and really it wouldn’t have been able to be completed without you. 

Um I also want to thank the entire staff at the Lab of Ornithology, I mean it was instrumental to have their support here, and um, just specifically wanted to make special mention to the Visitor Center facilities team. They, Jeff and, Jeffery Payne and his whole crew were so helpful in helping me create this masterpiece. 

And of course to Lisa Kopp’s staff, it was wonderful to see their smiling faces at the Visitor Center every morning. And of course I’m indebted to Jessie Barry, I don’t know are you here? Yay, Jessie! [waves arms around excitedly] She was my scientific advisor for this project as well as Dr. Fitzpatrick, who is of course as you know the Lab’s director. So really, thank you, it was a team effort. I’m really, really sincerely happy to have you guys on board. 

Okay so moving on with my presentation. 

[Slide text: INK DWELL; Photo: Mural of bighorn sheep running from mountain lion] 

I’m going to begin with the very first Jane Kim. 

[Photo: Teddy bear wearing a shirt] 

My obsession with art and animals came at a really young age. I think I was maybe about eight years old when I made this teddy bear. And I was absolutely obsessed with bears at the time, I had collected over 300 or so stuffed animals. I painted them on my walls, I made, I collected uh clippings from magazines, and I even subscribed to Teddy Bear Review, 

[Laughter] 

which, I don’t know if you guys are familiar with this magazine, but it’s just for the hobbyist um teddy bear maker, so I mean I was truly obsessed. Um and that, but I did later go on to art school, like Lisa said I went to the Rhode Island School of Design, and then also got a certificate in sci—um, certificate in science illustration from CSUMB. 

And one of the requirements from this program was actually to fulfill a ten week internship. We couldn’t get our degree without having done so, and I learned about um the Lab’s Bartel science illustration program, which is an outstanding opportunity for budding science illustrators. And so I was fortunate enough to have landed a spot in 2011. And that’s when I first came to the Lab of Ornithology. And this is actually um 

[Image: Scientific illustration of bar-tailed godwit showing internal organs, including air sacs] 

the very first piece that I did here at the Lab. It was for a short documentary um about track—it’s called Tracking Alaska’s Godwits, and it was a short film um that showed the remarkable discovery of when they were actually able to surgically implant a transmitter into one of these air sacs of a bar-tailed godwit, 

[Image: Drawing showing the placement of transmitter in air sac of a bar-tailed godwit] 

and they learned that they fly for nine straight days from Alaska to New Zealand, which is amazing. 

So they used these illustrations and animated them for the uh, for the project. 

I also worked on some other things that it didn’t end up getting published, but 

[Image: Painting of three Hawaiian honeycreepers on a tree with yellow flowers] 

were really amazing ways to learn about bird and their anatomy and bird art. And um this is a painting that I worked on for uh the topic of conservation. And I ended up working with Fitz on this project, so that is how I first got to know the director. 

And he helped me, he was my scientific advisor for this. And this represents Hawaiian honeycreepers. 

And simultaneously while I was at the Lab I um, ended up submitting an idea. 

[Images: Paintings of female and young bighorn sheep, two whooping cranes in flight, and a blue whale below a boat, each with additional design elements around the animals; Photos: Each painting as a mural on a different building] 

It was called the Migrating Mural, to an ocean conservation competition that was posted on NatGeo many years ago. And um I had this idea where, you know, it would be so amazing to see outdoor murals that depicted wildlife of that area where they intersected with, with human uh routes. 

And so I wanted to do land, sky, and sea. And for the sea, I had thought a blue whale would be just beautiful to follow up the coast of California on Highway 1. 

But this project ended up winning the Viewers’ Choice competition, and so they did a little interview. And it circulated. Diane Tessaglia-Hymes, who is the director of the Bartels program, um circulated around the Lab. And when Fitz saw this uh, he, he pulled me aside and said let’s, let’s, let’s go take a walk. 

[Laughter] 

And I said okay, 

[Photo: Large, blank wall in the Lab of Ornithology where the mural would be painted, with the stairs, a window, and two paintings visible in the corner] 

where are we going? Um and we ended up at the second level balcony, overlooking the windows that you, well you can see today. And it was, it was this.

It was just a drab, dark green, blank wall. And you can see the top of the stairs just poking out at that, in the picture. And there were beautiful paintings, of course, by renowned ornithologists and artists um on the walls, but the upstairs level you really just overlook this blank space. 

So he said to me, now doesn’t this scream mural at you? 

[Laughter] 

And I said yes, yes it does scream mural at me [laughs]. What did you have in mind? 

Um and he said that ever since the building was constructed he had envisioned there being an epic mural of bird evolution. And I thought okay, uh well I could do something like that. So would you be interested? 

And I kind of didn’t believe him at first. It was one of those opportunities that you never just kind of get asked if you would like to do. So of course I, I screamed yes I would be thrilled. And I think it’s been, it was the quickest I was able to turn around a concept sketch for any client thus far. I mean, I think I literally got him a concept in a week. 

And, and this is what I first, initially uh 

[Image: Concept sketch depicting evolution of birds, a world map with birds from different orders scattered over the map where they live—all along the top half of the wall; and drawings of an American crow, American robin, and house sparrow below] 

presented to him, and it was much more focused on the evolution of birds, and it actually only occupied the top half of the wall as well. So it was a long evolution with the tree that landed on the uh orders of birds, which about I think there’s like 40 or so orders? Is that right Jessie? Maybe. Some, something a lot less than what’s out there now [laughs].

And, and, and I was also simultaneously working on a project with Kevin McGowan which is called How Big Is It? And it was for his home study course. And we were thinking well maybe we should spruce up this scale of um size relativity for, for beginning birders of when you see a bird is it crow size? Is it robin size? Is it sparrow size? 

So that idea of relative scale was something that was um important in the early phases of the project. But this concept definitely won Fitz over, and this was back again in 2011. And came at the very tail end of the Bartels um internship. 

So I left the internship with this opportunity on my plate. And it was just remarkable, and scary, and I left not knowing what I was going to do. I had just finished my degree in science illustration. What in the world am I going to do with this? 

But I had already been thinking about how I wanted to create art, and I wanted it to be impactful. I wanted it to be educational. I wanted it to be something for public view. 

So… I did that. I left with the 

[Slide text: Inspiring People to Love and Protect the Earth One Work of Art at a Time; Photo: Male bighorn sheep mural painted on the side of one of the buildings at the Mt. Williamson Motel, with a mountain range visible in the background] 

Migrating Mural sort of etched in my brain as something that I absolutely had to, to create. And, and so in 2012 my husband and I actually created an art studio called Ink Dwell. And it’s a studio specializing in creating fine art large-scale commissions, environmental campaigns, exhibitions, and science illustration. 

And my hope was to be able to take that classical training that I got in scientific illustration, and mix that with the power of art, and hopefully produce something that, that could be both. 

So I, I’m just going to share a couple of projects that that Ink Dwell worked on in the time from my Bartels to when I first arrived here at the Lab to create the Wall of Birds out in the visitor center. 

It was about a two year process before we actually even could get the project fully um, supported, and, and not even funded, but just to get the green light on the concept and land someplace where everybody could move forward with it. 

So in that sort of two year period um we produced the Migrating Mural. And while it wasn’t the blue whale, we did uh highlight the 

[Image: Map of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep herd units with red dots showing mural locations; Photos: Various murals of bighorn sheep on buildings] 

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, which is an endangered animal that was enlisted as federally endangered in the ’90s. The population dropped to just about a hundred. And um, there was a recovery effort happening through the Department of Fish and Wildlife. And it was a successful recovery, and the numbers were slowly rising. But um there wasn’t much out there in terms of uh sharing this story with the world.

So um this was a really perfect way to start the concept of the Migrating Mural. And so there are six murals that follow the habitat um along Highway 395. And you can see the map on the the right. The red dots reflect the mural location with their habitat. 

So we did that, and we also were able to create a project for the National Aquarium 

[Photos: Concept sketch and two finished views of murals for the National Aquarium] 

and this project actually just um became public this past May. And it’s a new exhibit addition to their existing aquarium. It’s called Living Seashore, and it’s a touch exhibit, so it’s everything touchable. From digital touch screens, to digital or to touch interactives on the wall, and then of course touch tanks. So you get to play with jellies and rays and skates and a variety of other fascinating underwater creatures. 

And Ink Dwell created the art and installation. And um 

[Photo: Close up of part of the mural of a turtle approaching jellies, showing its texture] 

rather than it being a flat mural, uh we thought well we should also have something tactile on the walls to reflect the tactile exhibit. And so we created everything out of hand cut and um collaged paper. 

So here you can see how the, there’s actually relief on the wall. And it creates actual dimension with the materials, which is fun. 

But then, here we are. We’re now here in 

[Slide text: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Image: Final concept design for the Wall of Birds, with bird evolution on the left, and most of the space dedicated to the world map with modern bird families depicted where they live] 

August of 2014, and this is the concept that we did finally land on, landed on. Um and it depicts the, all of the modern families of birds, of which there are actually now 243. 

And when I first came here in August of 2014 there were only 231, so even in that year that I was here there were 14 yeah uh, yeah 12 additional species added to that list, which was kind of amazing [laughs] when I think about it now. 

It was one of the first things that Fitz told me when I arrived. He said so, you might want to speak with Irby and, and Wink because I think there’s a bunch of new species that have been added 

[Laughter] 

and I said okay, okay. So here we go. This is, this is going to happen. 

So I came here, and there was that huge blank wall again 

[Photo: Blank off-white wall before painting began] 

except now it’s this off-white color that you see now. And that is incredibly terrifying, and it’ll, it’s, it’s always terrifying even when you’re working on a small piece of paper. That blank surface is really daunting. 

But what was even more so was coming to an institution where it has a history, a long-standing history of artists, and ornithologists, and I’m surrounded by Audubon and Peterson and Fuertes, and now Maya Lin and James Prosek. 

And so the task of producing what is supposed to be this iconic representation of the evolution and diversity of birds is now on my plate. So that was, that was a little, that was a little scary. But like I said, I I had an amazing partner in in this task, which was working with with Jessie Barry on how to accurately depict all of my, my birds. 

So when you come to a blank wall like this you, how do you start? What do you even do? It seems like an easy solution, or easy task, but I, I started with the map. 

[Photo: The wall after only the world map had been painted] 

But that in itself was actually a six-week um task that took three artists to, to put up. And we did it, using temporary vinyl 

[Photo: Jane pulling a vinyl stencil of part of the map off the wall] 

stencils that we hand-cut. And then rolled the paint in. So once that was done, there, there was a process of getting the birds up there. 

[Photo: Drawings of birds positioned on the South America portion of the map] 

And I’m just going to quickly run through what seems like a very easy task. You do the drawing, 

[Photo: Drawing and skull of great cormorant] 

you do your research, you transfer them on the wall, 

[Photo: Beginning of great cormorant painted on the wall in blocks of color] 

you put the detail in, and voila, you got your bird. 

[Photo: Jane painting details of the great cormorant] 

and in my mind it really was 

[Photo: Finished great cormorant painting] 

going to be that simple. But then um, I, I realized that there there was this interesting tension that, that, that happened of scientific accuracy versus artistic expression. And so I remember distinctly a moment with Jessie when she was reviewing um 

[Images: Two drawings of the spotted pardalote, one with feet flat and one with feet clutched; and final painting of the pardalote] 

the birds with me, and, and we came to the spotted pardalote. I started in, in Australia. And we were reviewing the birds, and she had her comments, and I wasn’t any stranger to that. Being a Bartels intern I certainly worked with the ornithologists and, and accuracy of the birds and what they’re looking for. But, you know, this is the high—the stakes are kind of higher.

But she’s looking at the pardalote, and she like, I don’t know there’s something. She’s sort of stopped and kind of did one of these things [Jane puts her head on her hand] and looked and stared at it, and said I’m not really sure what’s going on here, but I feel like there’s something going on with the feet. Those feet looks so weird. Is it that they’re too big? Is it that, I don’t know. What’s, what’s wrong with these feet? 

And it turns out that I had come to Jessie with um 231 sketches at the time, of all the birds depicted with flat feet because they weren’t going to be on any kind of habitat, or they weren’t going to be um, you know on, there weren’t any branches. No, no substrate for them to actually be on. So for me it made sense to keep them consistent and to have them all flat-footed. 

But then what it, what ended up happening was that oftentimes many of these birds are never in that posture. So there’s just something goofy about them even if they might be represented correctly, there’s just something off about how a, a birder might see this bird in life. 

And one of the other comments that I often got was from her was Jane you don’t have to make it this hard on yourself. Because I would often try to put them in positions that in my mind were, were really exciting or dynamic. But it was just a moment in time that a photograph might have captured it in this weird position. It’s not really reflective of their natural position. 

So there were often um, birds, the first round of birds that were, were oddly dynamic. Not you know, naturally dynamic. And their feet were reflective of something that they wouldn’t do either. So we clutched the feet of this pardalote, and and moving forward we started to keep that in mind. 

Um and so for example um birds 

[Photo: Great crested grebe painting on the Wall of Birds] 

that are seen swimming often, like this grebe here. I decided you know what, there’s, there’s no water but I’m going to go ahead and put it in this position because it’s a recognizable position. People will see it, but it’s also something very informative of how their feet might look underwater. And um moments, and it creates a dynamism anyway. 

And it was a beautiful marriage of um an artistic decision with a scientifically accurate one. And we found that it actually helped tell the story better of each of the birds when they were doing something that they would naturally do, like this great reed-warbler.

[Photo: Great reed-warbler painting on the Wall of Birds] 

It’s clutched onto a reed even though there’s no reed. And so you can really actually learn from each one of these um birds about what they might do in real life. 

And then [laughs] 

[Laughter] 

there’s the frigatebird 

[Photo: Magnificent frigatebird painting on the Wall of Birds, with the bird perched on the sprinkler] 

clutching the, the fire um sprinkler. And I had really wanted to depict the, the frigatebird with its pouch out and, and I had it in flight. And I discovered that that’s, they don’t fully inflate when, when they’re flying. So I needed to find a resting spot for the frigatebird. And the sprinkler wasn’t going anywhere, 

[Laughter] 

so it was really the perfect spot to put him. 

So once we kind of got through that process of, of you know how to create something fun and dynamic, but at the same time stay true to the bird. There was also this other daunting task. Which was, it’s 

[Photo: Jane on a scissor lift painting part of the way up the wall when some of the mural is complete] 

a long, big project. I had 16 months of straight painting here at the Lab of Ornithology. And I mean every day that I was here, apart from if I took a vacation, or if I had to go out of town for whatever reason. If I was here, I was painting. 

And this picture was taken late February, early March. And I remember that moment, when I saw the picture, and I thought oh my God I’ve been here for how many months, and I feel like there’s no progress on the wall.

[Laughter] 

It still felt so blank to me. And how you keep going when uh there’s just so much space to fill, and um. I had to often reflect back to that picture 

[Laughter] 

because every time 

[Photo: The blank wall before painting started] 

I was feeling discouraged, or that I wasn’t really making any progress, I would remind myself no, no you are. You are. You’re making progress. And all of a sudden Africa was filled 

[Photo: Africa, Europe, and the Middle East on the Wall of Birds] 

and Europe was filled, and then Asia was filled. And then all of a sudden it was the entire Eastern Hemisphere that was filled 

[Photo: Eastern hemisphere of the Wall of Birds] 

and then the Americas, that’s it. All I had was the Americas left. And there was this 

[Photo: Details on the Andean flamingo being painted in the South American section of the Wall of Birds, with many other birds already finished nearby] 

light at the, at the end of the tunnel. It was fabulous. And I remember on November second I sent out an email to um Jessie and Fitz.

[Photos: North Island saddleback and barn owl paintings on the Wall of Birds] 

And I said the last ow—bird is officially painted. And I started with the saddleback in New Zealand, because it was small and, and manageable. And I just wanted to get a bird up there. And then I ended with the the barn owl in, in uh Texas. 

And it felt really good. We were just about to have their centennial board meeting, and it was a great way to celebrate. But then after that high came a real low, which was oh gosh I actually still have to paint the caiman, 

[Photo: Black caiman painting on the Wall of Birds] 

and the entire evolution on the stairwell. 

[Laughter] 

So these la—[laughs].

So it was these last couple of months um where I actually um worked on the the stairwell um evolution. And I almost think of it as, as two separate murals. It was really just the modern birds, and then the evolution. 

So they got two, it’s almost like they got two murals. And the whole time I was working on the evolution I, I kind of kept 

[Image: The Rhinoceros woodcut by Albrecht Dürer] 

Albrecht Dürer in the back of my mind. Um, as you know, he made this drawing just on description of people who had seen a rhinoceros. And, while it’s not a hundred percent accurate, it’s pretty darn good, I think. You know, is it, you would recognize it as a rhinoceros if, you know, if you didn’t know the backstory. 

So I sort of felt a little lost when I was doing the evolution. Just really how do you depict something just on, on fossils? And of course I, I will at this point, you know thank Julia Clarke and Pete Larson, who were paleontologists that sort of guided me through this process, as well. So I kind of think of it as a huge win if I uh was half as close as Dürer was to this rhinoceros. 

[Photo: Hesperornis and part of the Presbyornis on the Wall of Birds] 

And here we have a Hesperornis, meaning western bird. It’s a genus of um flightless aquatic birds in the Cretaceous period. And the head of the Presbyornis poking out. 

And here I am painting the Yutyrannus, 

[Photo: Jane painting the head of the Yutyrannus] 

which was the larger—he’s of the Jurassic period, and the largest uh dinosaur that has evidence of feathers covering his entire body. 

Um and so I think that for me this ended up being one of my favorite and most exciting parts of the mural, because I think what it did it gave the enormous wall an enormous glimpse of, of history. 

And it’s this narrative that actually inspired the title of the mural, which is “From So Simple a Beginning.” And that comes directly from a Charles Darwin quote from the Origin of Species.

And the quote goes like this: There’s a grandeur in this view of life with the several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one, and that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved. 

Um so that is really what we hope that this mural will continue to inspire um the idea of, of learning and evolution. And while this mural certainly actually isn’t going to be accurate 15 years down the road, I mean even just in the year that I came they added families. And you know sadly we’ll probably lose a lot of the, well hopefully not a lot. X that. We may lose some of the species that are in color [laughs] as well. 

But really um, um it’s that, that the idea of scale and history is what we hope will be a lasting part for the Lab. So I’m keeping this brief and short because um, I want to have a lot of room for questions. 

But also to continue the evolution of this project, um I’d like to invite Mya Thompson to give you a little sneak peek of an incredible interactive that she and her team are developing, um which will breathe life into the mural for years to come. So this is where I’m handing this over to Mya, and then we can do Q&A after that. 

[Mya Thompson] Yeah, don’t worry we’ll bring Jane back.

[Jane laughs] 

[Mya] All right. So this is really a sneak peek for you guys. Um and I will bring it up on the screen here. 

And we’ll have a chance to take a peek, and then we’ll have more questions. So I’m going to make this bigger now. And, it will show us some context.

So what you see here is a tiny strip of that wall. And what’s incredible about that tiny strip is that that strip alone has I think about 60 photos stitched together, and when we’re done this is going to have the whole wall is going to be about 400 photos stitched together.

And this is a painstaking process, but so worthwhile because once you get them stitched together it allows people at home, people here on a kiosk, to actually explore the mural at their leisure, to satisfy their curiosity about what these birds are, and to learn more about the life history.

[Marc] Hey, I hate to disturb you, but just for the benefit of our home audience we have a little bit of a glitch 

[Mya] Okay. 

[Marc walks into view] 

[Marc] That we need to… 

[Mya] So while Marc does that… It’s an inspirational project, and one of the most amazing things about it is what Jane talked about, which is that it is a unique marriage of art and science. 

And so as the project unfolded the Bird Academy team, the Bird Academy site was launched in September as a place. Is that working? 

[Marc] I think it’s going to, just give me a second.

[Mya] As a place where you can encounter free interactives, videos, and courses that help you learn about birds.

[Marc gives a thumbs up and walks off] 

[Mya] And we’ve been developing interactives for the last three years, and as this project developed we thought wow, this is going to be a fun one. Not only is it a beautiful masterpiece of art, but it also has this very core scientific goal, 

[Screen view: Wall of Birds interactive on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, showing a strip of the mural including most of Australia] 

which is to show you the diversity of modern birds. So you should be able to hear me better now 

[Laughter] 

and hopefully you at home can see this sneak peek as well. So at the Bird Academy we, our job is to make interactives and courses and videos and, and, and animations that help you learn about birds. 

And this project is really an inspiration, and what we try to do with this interactive is help you learn more about the birds on this wall, the world of birds. 

And so I’m going to play with it a little, and we’ll play with it together. And then in, in the late winter, early spring you’ll be able to play at home, and in person here at a kiosk on the second floor which is truly the best view of the mural.

So here we go, we do want it, this is a prototype, very much in progress. 

And when you zoom in 

[Screen view: Zooms in on the mural so the birds are enlarged, with the southern cassowary near the center, then continues zooming in on the cassowary] 

you’re able to actually see Jane’s artistry at a level that you don’t normally see. 

So what I want to do here right now is to introduce you to the southern cassowary. 

[Screen view: Zooms in even more on the cassowary’s head] 

Look at, look at the eye. The eye is beautiful. And something you don’t see until you zoom in to see each brush stroke is there’s a little bit of yellow under there. 

[Laughter] 

And when, when Jane took a preview of this she said oh I’m so glad that people will have the opportunity to see the little bit of yellow

[Laughter] 

under the cassowary. 

But each bird has these little details that are truly incredible. So you know, beyond just seeing these birds and really getting a good look at the art we also want you to be able to learn about who these birds are, what is their natural history? Where do they live? What do they sound like? 

Um and so what we’re able to do is when you click on any of these birds you can learn more about them. So this text is not finalized yet 

[Screen view: Text about the southern cassowary appears next to the painting: Southern Cassowary Casuarius casuarius 

About this species: The Southern Cassowary is a giant among the birds of the lowlands of New Guinea and northeastern Australia. Males are solely responsible for parental care. For Southern Cassowaries, chicks require nine months to fully develop. Outside the breeding season, adults are largely silent. To feed their large bodies, they eat a variety of fallen fruits, along with some insects, seeds, and other items. They play a major role in moving large seeds around in the rainforest. Unfortunately, Southern Cassowaries are suffering a major decline and are listed as vulnerable] 

but we do want to provide a little bit of context about each of these birds. We want you to tell us which ones you love [laughs], 

[Screen view: Scrolls down and shows where to click if you “love” the cassowary.

Text: Help others discover this bird by voting it up. Votes: 2 View Results 

Audio recording] 

and we’ll have a leaderboard so we can see what others do as well. 

[Laughter] 

And an opportunity to play sounds. 

[Screen view: Scrolls down and shows where to click for the audio recording, and then the About This Family section: Cassowaries Casuariidae 

The Southern Cassowary was selected to represent it’s family, Casuariidae, on the wall of birds.] 

Learn about the family it represents. This is something truly extraordinary about the mural. Each of the living, each of the colorful birds represents our current understanding of how many families there are, and, and one of the birds from that family was selected. So there’s a poster child. 

[Laughter] 

Which is a really, it was a really hard thing, I think, to choose all of these birds. And also we want to provide you with a map, and those maps are going to be coming directly from eBird, and so dynamically updated. 

So if you want to know where can I go to see this incredible bird you’ll be able to do that as well. 

So let’s just, you know, our job is to, you know, open your eyes to all the different birds in the world. Especially this is an amazing opportunity to look at the diversity worldwide of birds.

Sometimes we focus in on North America, but here we are with the ability to see birds across the world. So southern cassowary is one lovely one, but let’s try some others. How ’bout I click on these guys.

[Giggles] 

[Screen view: Cursor moves to the Gouldian finches painted in northern Australia and clicks.] 

So the Gouldian finch. 

[Screen view: Text about the Gouldian Finch appears next to the painting of three Gouldian finches: Gouldian Finch Erythrura gouldiae 

About This Species: The wind blows through spear grass, carrying with it the scent of charred wood. Among the smoking ruins of a brush fire, Gouldian Finches scurry on the ground, salvaging the roasted grass seeds and eating ripe and unripe seeds alike. The song of the Gouldian Finches sounds like the flock intensely whispers to each other, mixing high-pitched hissing, long whines, and low-pitched clicking notes. During the breeding season, males will use a shorter call, akin to a “sit,” known as a contact call, to woo mates in] 

The Gouldian Finch. Now, why are there three? This is the only, 

[Screen view: Zooms in on painting of Gouldian finches] 

this is the only spot on the wall that where there are three birds representing one species. Does anyone know? 

[Screen view: Scrolls down 

Text continued: addition to bowing and bobbing at the female. Gouldian Finches are one of the most popular cage birds in the world and are frequently bred in captivity; but due to habitat alteration, their wild populations are severely threatened.

Help others discover this bird by voting it up. Votes: 4 View Results 

About This Family: Waxbills and Allies 

Estrildidae 

The Gouldian Finch was selected to represent it’s family, Estrildidae, on the wall of birds The waxbills, munias, and their allies are found from Africa through southern Asia and Australia] 

So in the wild there are actually three color morphs. And they’re all living together in the same areas, and they are interbreeding with one another. And it’s from one specific genetic mutation that the heads can be black, yellow, or red. 

And there are some fascinating science that comes out of the Gouldian finch, uh, story. And I um I think it’s really fun to be able to see them all on the wall together. And I believe that many people will think why are there three? 

And I’m hoping that lots of people will click on this and learn. 

So Gouldian finches is one very cool story, uh biological story that you could learn about here. Another, let’s just, so right now the prototype is only live for Australian birds. So let’s see what else.

[Screen view: Zooms out from Gouldian finches, moves the map around to the tawny frogmouth, and clicks] 

How about this one? 

[Screen view: Text about the tawny frogmouth appears next to the painting of the frogmouth: Tawny Frogmouth Podargus Strigoides

About This Species: On a cool night, sounds of meditation seem to emerge from the woods. Rather than a dedicated Buddhist monk, the soft and unobtrusive “om” belongs to the Tawny Frogmouth. These common but hard-to-spot nocturnal birds require trees in which to roost and nest. They eat terrestrial invertebrates such as scorpions and centipedes as well as taking lizards, small birds, and frogs. Their nests are flimsy platforms of thin sticks in the fork of a tree. Males and females switch incubation duty] 

So the tawny frogmouth. Uh one thing I love about this is that you think it looks like an owl but it’s not 

[Screen view: Scrolls down 

Text continued: with the male taking the day shift and the female the night shift.

Help others discover this bird by voting it up Votes: 0 View Results 

About This Family: Frogmouths] 

This is representing 

[Screen view: Zooms in on the frogmouth painting] 

a family… of frogmouths. Funny name, lovely name. 

[Screen view: Scrolls down in text 

Text: Frogmouths 

Podargidae 

The Tawny Frogmouth was selected to represent it’s family, Podargidae, on the wall of birds.

The frogmouths are found in the tropics of Southeast Asia and Australia. Large and cryptically patterned, they are difficult to find by day, when they sit motionless, resembling the ends of broken branches. At night, they are] 

Um and as you can see from the coloration of this bird, or you might suspect, these uh, these birds really do hide 

[Screen view: Closes text box to show more of the painting] 

during the day. They look like dead branches, and they pose on the end of dead branches. And they are nocturnal, mostly active at night. And during the day you would never see their eyes because they’re closed, and they really do blend into the, into their habitat. 

And what I love about Jane’s depiction of the frogmouth is that we can actually see its eyes open.

[Laughter] 

Right? Artist’s prerogative. The birds do have their eyes open sometimes. So the frogmouth is beautiful. I love the eyes on this one. You can learn more about it.

Um and now let’s go 

[Screen view: Zooms out from the frogmouth and moves around the map to get to the superb lyrebird and clicks on it] 

to this one. Does anyone know what this one is? I’m hearing lyrebird, that’s right. 

[Screen view: Text about the superb lyrebird next to the painting: Superb Lyrebird Menura Novaehollandiae 

Through the thick ferns, tangled vines, and crawling epiphytes of the subtropical forest of southeastern Australia, the sound of breaking wood rings out. From within the wood emerges a torrent of millipedes, spiders, lice, and other invertebrates that had taken refuge. Lightning fast, the Superb Lyrebird consumes them along with other passerines. Males create a display mound where they thrust their tail forward over their head and vibrate from side to side. Females create a bulky domed nest lined] 

Now the Lyrebird is truly amazing, 

[Screen view: Closes text box and zooms in on the painting of the lyrebird] 

and as Jane described, she thought very carefully about what pose each of these birds was going to be in. And this one is particularly bizarre, right? And we do notice that the lyrebird’s mouth is open. And the tail feathers are flung over its head. 

So what’s going on with this bird? This just begs to be figured out, right. So the superb lyrebird. This is the display posture, 

[Screen view: Opens text again and scrolls down 

Text continued: Both genders are highly promiscuous 

Help others discover this bird by voting it up Votes: 1 View Results 

Audio recording 

Macaulay Library: ML#8004] 

um and during this display he makes some incredible sounds, so I’m going to play them. Hopefully you’ll be able to hear.

[Screen view: Clicks to play audio recording; 

Audio: [inaudible] catalog number 8004] 

[Audience] That’s pretty good.

[Laughter] 

[Mya] They are actually excellent mimics, some of you may know.

[Laughter] 

So let’s take a listen.

[Audio: Lyrebird making various types of sounds, including the lyrebird-specific sound] 

[Mya] There are different phases, so let’s listen a little bit longer.

[Audio: Lyrebird making various sounds, including mimicry of other things] 

[Mya] The early phase of this song is the, the sounds that only superb lyrebirds make, and then it transitions into a mimicking phase that mim—and it mimics all sorts of other species from nearby. 

The dance moves are actually coordinated with the song as well. It’s pretty extraordinary. 

[Laughter] 

[Audio: Lyrebird mimicry continues] 

[Screen view: Pauses audio playback] 

So one of the things I love about this is that the um Macaulay Library has such a rich collection of sounds that we can draw from. And that the eBird maps, people all over the world are submitting their observations to eBird, and that we can learn from them even at the level of where does this bird live? Um from a mural here in the visitor center. 

So I’m wondering, let’s see. We’ve got one other really cool thing about this mural. 

[Screen view: Closes text box and moves around the map north of Australia and Papua New Guinea to the painting of the Sylviornis, which is in grayscale near Solomon Islands. The head of the Dromornis, north of New Guinea and also in grayscale, is visible.] 

And because we’re over here in, uh, this strip where, uh Australia. We don’t have all the grayed out birds, the birds that are currently extinct. Or the extinct ancestors. But we do have some of them, and so I just want to show you here, a little bit of the story behind the grayed out birds that are not along the stairwell. 

So some of them are actually stepping on the world map, and that’s because these are birds that we believe would still be here today had humans not hunted them to extinction. And what’s incredible about them is that they are so weird-looking. 

[Laughter] 

Right, you don’t, they don’t look like modern birds to you. But in fact they did overlap with humans. And this one right near, here is named Dromornis. Um it is extinct. 

[Screen view: Clicks on Dromornis so text appears next to the painting: Dromornis 

Extinct 

The nineteenth-century town of Peak Downs, Queensland, Australia possessed an intriguing bone: It was a femur of a “Thunder Bird”. Around the same location, millions of years ago, Dromornis stood on the edge of a heavy deciduous forest, slowly moving its ungainly body around on powerful legs. Weighing in at half a ton, Dromornis’ heavy footfalls made deep impressions in soft soil. Its powerful beak ripped through tough plant stalks and could very well have torn other creatures apart. Initially] 

And it has very unusual feet, which you can’t see here. But what the mural also teaches us is that there are some pretty unusual species out there that were not so long ago with us, uh still with us. 

And they did look pretty odd, I mean this is, this is not Big Bird from Sesame Street, 

[Laughter] 

right, but it is a big bird. And we should consider it a modern bird. Um and so what I think is quite incredible about the, the way the mural is organized is those, those, that evolution down the stairwell, um then spills off onto the world map making me think what in the world is going on here? 

And so hopefully by exploring the map, and really being able to zoom in and learn about these creatures, we’ll be able to get people, like you, thinking about diversity, extinction, and the deep evolutionary history of modern birds. 

So I want to bring, I want to encourage you to visit Bird Academy, especially when we have this up. We’re working on it. It is quite a process to get this stitch all together. 

And you may have the question, when you looked outside. There are actually blue pieces of tape on the wall. And that is because when you stitch these photos together if it’s blank wall you really need control points. So we’ve been sticking those on the wall to help us stitch them together. So they will be coming down shortly when we finish that process. 

So, let’s get Jane up here, I know you have lots of questions. Thanks.

[Applause] 

[Jane] Hi, yes? 

[Audience] What kind of paint did you use, and did you have to use any protective solution over the paint when you got done? 

[Jane] So the question was what kind of paint did I use, and did I have to put any sort of protective sealer on it? 

I used a combination of latex house paints and acrylic, and no I didn’t put anything to, to seal it. I used very sturdy paints, because sealers, that room gets a lot of light and a lot of UV light. Um and so the reac—my fear was that over time the sealer might yellow or crack or do something strange, so I, I ended up using very stable paints to begin with. Yeah.

Yep? 

[Audience] Are all the animals to scale? 

[Jane] Yes. Are all the animals to scale? Everything is depicted as close to life size as we could, we could make it. 

Yep? 

[Audience] How did you choose the poster child? 

[Jane] That’s a great question. How did we choose which uh bird to represent for each family? I was fortunate enough to be able to stay out of that process [laughs].

[Laughter] 

And this was a, a decision that was made by the Lab. And I’m not really entirely sure of how that happened, the inner workings. However, I do know that oftentimes they were the biggest representative, or the showiest representative, or we needed one to fill Europe because it was looking sparse, so let’s pick a European representative. So it was a combination of all of that. 

Yep? 

[Audience] Did you have any inkling when you started this of how much further it would get, go just beyond the painting of the mural? 

[Jane] Um, did I have any inkling of how far this would go beyond the painting. Can you be more specific, in what ways? 

[Audience] Like this interactive.

[Jane] Oh like this interactive, no. Okay so I, I literally got tears in my eyes when Mya first showed me this interactive. It was really what I had hoped. Because you know, making the art is one step. And I really really believe this that art has the potential to be so much more than just a picture on a wall, but it’s up to how we utilize it to become that. 

And so it was really such an honor to see the Lab take it that next step, and, and provide it for the entire, this interactive for the entire world. It really was just amazing. Thank you, Mya.

Yep? 

[Audience] What are you gonna do next? 

[Laughter] 

[Jane] Oh, what am I gonna do next? Um, there’s a long answer, and a short answer [laughs].

[Laughter] 

Um the short answer is I’m going to have a nice road trip back to California, and enjoy some time off. But no, the longer answer um I’m currently working hopefully on another Migrating Mural campaign with the Nature Conservancy that will represent the monarch butterfly. So stay tuned [laughs]. 

Yep, in the back.

[Staff] Yeah, we have a few questions from people watching online.

[Jane] Awesome.

[Staff] Um and one is what was your most challenging and most rewarding moments on the project? 

[Jane] Most chal—what was the most, what are some of the most challenging and rewarding moments of the project? Um, [pause] I think when I got the first really big bird up on the wall, which was actually the uh, the ostrich. He felt like a real big accomplishment to me 

[Laughter] 

because he was front and center from this, the second level viewing area, which I hope you guys will all take a second to do before you leave tonight. But he’s just right there, and, and he’s the biggest bird, and he’s the one that you can really see a lot of detail on. 

I think yeah, a lot of the larger birds, the albatross, the wandering albatross, which has a, um a 10-foot wingspan. Um you know these, these were all very challenging birds um because of their size. So to really accurately depict their proportions took a lot of, a lot of work, and a lot of um research. So those were always accomplish—accomplishments. 

Um, you know seeing the world map was a very cool sort of a moment of whew, okay, I’ve got, I’ve got the wall filled in. And now it’s, you know, about getting everything else down. So that, that was really neat. 

Um, yeah and then I feel like every bird was a small victory [laughs].

[Laughter] 

It really, really was um. Because you’re there with small goals every day, and you have to stay on track. And really one of the biggest things that I learned on this project was disciplined. 

And so I set myself out with I’m going to get x, y, and z done, and then I accomplished it. And it was like this for every single day that I was there painting. Um so that’s, going through that was just in itself a really, I guess big accomplishment [laughs]. Yep. 

Yep? 

[Audience] Did you find yourself noticing more detail, um, seeing birds in the wild now, after having done this? And can you spot and name more birds now? 

[Jane] Okay, so the question being do I um, am I able to notice more detail in birds um when I’m out now. And yes and no. What it did teach me, um, I definitely am able to see birds and kind of get, make a bet—better judgment of what you know sort of type it might be. 

But what I also learned on this project is that there is a lot to learn on birds. 

[Laughter] 

And I did not come in as an expert, and I leave not feeling like an expert. Um so I know that there’s much more to be learned, but it is really exciting to pay attention to different details now. So that I think is something that I learned um over the course of this year. 

Yep? 

[Audience] I’m curious about how you dealt with [inaudible] different shades of blue, and in terms of just getting, being accurate with the colors that each bird [inaudible].

[Jane] So the question is how uh, did I stay accurate with the um myriad of colors that would, are required in the painting each one of these birds? And it actually became kind of systematic, um and so if you can. I don’t have my slides up now, but the slide that I sort of quickly briefed through of the cormorant, but before the detail went on, and it was just blocked out in base colors. 

I ended up uh creating sort of a catalog of base colors that were then used over and over again, and that helped create a consistency across the entire wall. But also um from on top of that I could build whether it needed to be brighter or duller, bluer or more red or you know what have you. 

It was an easy way to mix my colors over that, because staying on track with my time was really important. And so being efficient was also incredibly important. I had to average around a bird a day, which was not an easy task. So. 

Yep? 

[Audience] Uh what uh source depictions or photos or illustrations were you using as uh your models for uh each of the birds? 

[Jane] So what were my references for each of the paintings? And I collected videos, photos, um specimens in in museum collections. The Lab here has a pretty solid collection, but I also made a pit stop at the Field Museum on my drive over from California. And um played around and took photographs of their collection. So it was a combination. And then of course relying on people who studied that particular species. 

Uh, yep, here.

[Audience] Did you have all of them uh plotted out before you started the whole thing? Where each bird was going to be? 

[Jane] Uh the question was did I have everything mapped out or plotted out before I started? And the answer is yes, I did, I had a pretty good idea of the postures coming in, but it did also change throughout the course of the painting. Certain birds were moved around, and I also used eBird. Mya mentioned eBird, that was instrumental tool for me, too, in terms of placing all of the birds on the map. And I, I used the more dense locations as my starting point for, for positioning. 

Yep? 

[Audience] Um my question is, thinking more for myself, when I’m out in the hallway and I’m looking up and around at it. Um, beside the fact that I can hold my phone in my hand or Kindle or something, is there going to be some other way for people who are out there to know exactly what’s going on with the mural? 

[Jane] Um, I’m. So the question, is there going to be um, a list or some sort of something to go along with the the wall in addition to the interactive? I’m sure there will be, that hasn’t quite yet been determined as to what. 

Yep? 

[Audience] Are there any female birds on the mural? 

[Jane] There are, so the question was are there any female birds on um, females represented. And I’m glad you asked that because it’s really easy to go with the male version most often because it’s colorful and beautiful, but there were some. The saddle-billed stork in Africa is a female. And the only way that you’d be able to tell that is to know that females have yellow eyes versus black eyes. Um so they’re the same. 

Uh let’s see. There were other instances where um I chose a less showy female over a duller male, like in the uh curassow, uh the great curassow in South America. He’s just black, and the female is actually really beautiful, and patterned and barred and cinnamon, all kinds of cool colors. But because it was next to the sunbittern, which has its wings open and it’s full of pattern itself, I chose the male. 

Um but there are definitely other females. Oh the um, oh gosh, there’s a tiny little bird in Africa, the brown-throated wattle-eye. The female has the brown throat, the male does not. So I went with the name of the bird to reflect [laughs], to reflect that pattern. 

So yeah, there’s, there are moments where the female that was highlighted. Not often though [laughs].

[Laughter] 

Yes? 

[Audience] It seemed like Asia had fewer birds than the other continents.

[Jane] Um… so the, Asia looked like it had fewer birds than other continents. Um, yeah I think that it actually isn’t quite true there, but there are a lot of smaller birds represented in Asia. So it being a large continent, there um, the—it felt more sparse because the, they were all occupied by pretty small birds. 

Whereas North America had mid- to large scale birds, but um less, actually, than Asia. I think it was the same number in Asia. So that, a lot, illusion [laughs]. 

Yes? 

[Audience] As you look back on it, would you do anything differently? 

[Jane] If I look back on it, would I do anything differently? Ahhh! Um. You know, I think there are things that I wish for that I don’t know it would be possible, because then it would be twice the amount of time that it already took, 

[Laughter] 

which is to be able to actually go and study the birds, or have a little bit more time to, to research the birds. Because you know, that only makes the work stronger. So that, if I could do it again I would want that. 

Yep? 

[Audience] How much of a challenge was it to concentrate on your work when you were at the higher elevations? 

[Laughter] 

[Jane] [Laughs] Um, the question was how um, was it more challenging to being up on that lift.

[Audience] How much of a challenge was it to, to concentrate on your work? 

[Jane] To concentrate on the work, being 

[Audience] Knowing that you weren’t on terra firma.

[Laughter] 

[Jane] Yeah, um so was it harder to concentrate when I was higher up? Um, uhhhh yeah, you know, in the, in the lift it didn’t feel so bad. I mean it does sway, 

[Laughter] 

and it moves, but that didn’t bother me so much as there was a giant scaffolding set up that was uh, placed at the top of the stairs when I was um, when I was doing the tip of the wing of the big extinct bird called the Pelagornis. Um, and that thing really made me nervous because there, there was just so many places where things could go wrong. 

[Laughter] 

So I had this experience of, after the first day of painting up at that height, I came down and my left hand was really sore. And it’s because I hadn’t realized how how hard I was clenching on to the paint that I was holding because I didn’t want to drop it. 

[Laughter] 

And, and so that, that was a moment where I realized oh wow that, that’s not so comfortable up there [laughs].

[Laughter] 

So yeah, it was tricky, yeah. 

Yes? 

[Audience] Do you have a favorite bird? 

[Jane] Do I have a, do I have a favorite bird? Um, I think I have uh… well okay so I’m going to answer this with my, with the ostrich again, because it was really a sort of a momentous point in the mural for me, but it also was one of the paintings that I struggled with most. So I kind of fought that one a lot. That bird actually took seven days to paint, which is really a lot of time to spend on any one bird. 

Um I would spend anywhere from four hours to a couple days on any given bird, so to spend an entire week um meant that I was really kind of working things out, so. And sometimes when that happens you, you become connected to the, to when you finally get to a point where you say oh okay I like this now [laughs] because it took so long to get there. So, no the ostrich is still one of my favorites. The great hornbill is another one of my favorites which is in Asia—Southeast Asia. 

Um, let’s see what other. I really actually enjoyed the, painting the extinct, the evolution—nary—, sort of lineage. That was uh fun for me. Um and that last bird I think will, 

[Laughter] 

the owl, the barn owl 

[Laughter] will stay really important to me [laughs]. Yeah, absolutely. 

Yes? 

[Audience] How did you decide to place migrating birds? 

[Jane] Oh, that’s a good question, um so it depended on how we chose to depict its plumage. So if we wanted to pick breeding plumage then we would place the bird in where it would have that particular patterning to it. So yeah, that’s a very great question and I didn’t repeat that one. Um, where if the, migratory birds, where were they placed? Or how did you choose to place them in it. It went with how we decided to choose their feather coloration.

Yes? 

[Audience] Did you miss not having a studio setting? 

[Jane] Um, did I miss not having a studio setting? Uh, it didn’t really dawn on me because this became my studio, so it was really nicely set up. I had my supplies on a baker scaffold, and all the equipment was there. So really, I kind of feel bad for the staff because, thank you for letting me come and make this my studio for a year. 

Yeah it was, it was, it was harder to just be away from home versus having to change my studio. Yeah. 

Yes? 

[Audience] Did you do anything special for lighting? Because the sun does some, come out sometimes in Ithaca.

[Jane] [Laughs] I noticed that. Um, so did I have to do anything special for the, the lighting? Um, I often found, I didn’t have to do anything special for the lighting, there was enough light in the, um. Yeah, cuz I was a little bit nocturnal, so I actually came in probably around noon or so and then painted into the evening. Um which, and it was nice, and it was quiet. And the speakers played beautiful sounds. And especially in the summer you could hear the crickets, and the frogs, and when it was raining you could hear that. And it was marvelous. 

But um, the light was dimmer in the evening, of course, but I actually appreciated that because it made um, me paint with more contrast at night. And so that in the morning, you know, you uh, one of the things that was, I didn’t really speak to this earlier, but it was a challenge to um make the bird look the way I wanted it to from various distances, which is the way that this mural will be experienced. 

And uh when I did my first few birds I was, I, I saw that there wasn’t enough contrast. I would paint and I would spend hours, and I had spent hours on the cassowary’s head, and then I went upstairs to the balcony it was like, what? I thought I rendered his bill, but now I don’t see anything. So I really had to kind of learn how to up that, that contrast, and the dim lighting actually sort of helped that. Yeah. 

Any other questions? Yeah? 

[Audience] So, to me and I probably imagine everyone in this room, your work is stunning, and vibrant, and the other pictures we’ve seen from the murals you’ve done are the same, and they have a similar look to them, as well. So I’m wondering if you could talk a little about artistic expression in the world of scientific illustration, which is so accurate and research-based. How can we tell what’s a Jane Kim piece versus another scientific illustration? What’s your expressive touch? 

[Jane] So what’s the expressive touch that I bring to scientifically accurate work? You know, I don’t know if I, I even exactly know how to answer that. I think I rely on the audience to be able to point that out or pick it out, and it’d be, I’d love to hear what um, you guys think of what makes this mine versus someone else, because it’s true that um there’s so many incredible artists out there in the world, and scientific illustrators. 

And we all have our own unique styles and touches, and I think that’s one of the beauties about, beautiful things about choosing an illustration over a photograph, is that um it brings life to various parts of the birds, and um I think that for this project in particular, I had to sort of be selective about where I, I focused my detail. 

So I obviously couldn’t make every single part of the bird have meticulous detail. But I would, I would choose a certain characteristic or feature, and say but I really want to make sure that that’s there. And I would, I would um bring life to each of the birds that way. 

Um and then I think it’s project-based. Like at the aquarium, I really wanted to showcase the textures and the vibrant co—patterns there. So, I kind of choose what’s important for me to distinguish at that, for that particular piece. 

Yes? 

[Audience] How did your seven helpers actually help you? 

[Jane] Yes, they were incredibly helpful. So how did the assistants plug into the project? Um, and it was anywhere from the preliminary stages creating color concepts, and drawings. Or it was to transferring, so the, all the, solid blocked color birds, those were done um by the assistants. 

So we would walk through which colors to put where, they would transfer the birds to the wall, then they would paint um all those colors in, and then put the drawing back over it, and transfer my line work on to that. So when I came to paint it was all there ready for me to do.

So that’s how the modern birds worked, the extinct part it was a similar process where they would transfer the drawings um, which were blown up, by the way. So everything was drawn small, then scanned, um blown to size, meticulously picked by Jessie and I of which bird was the correct representative of, of which scale to choose. And then there’s a piece of carbon paper that gets put between the drawing and the wall. And then drawing gets traced onto the wall. 

So the assistants did anything from size research, to scanning, to blocking in, to tracing the drawing. I mean, really there was so much. I did this really meticulous breakdown of hours of what it took for one bird. And it averaged about 24 hours a bird. So you can imagine it definitely required several hands to do that [laughs].

Oh yes? 

[Staff] Quick follow up to that because someone online was asking um could you name your assistants again.

[Jane] Oh sure, it was, um so Misaki Ouchida, which I’m, I hope I say that correctly [laughs], Emma Regnier, Emily Waldman, James Walwer, Luke Seitz, Danza Davis, um, and there’s uh Nola Booth. Those were my seven artist assistants, and then Jessie Barry was my scientific advisor, as well as John Fitzpatrick. Um so that was pretty much the entire team. 

They were awesome [laughs].

[Laughter] 

Truly awesome. Yeah, well if you guys don’t have any. Oh yeah, go ahead.

[Lisa] Yeah, so thank you so much, Jane.

[Applause] 

[Jane] And I’ll be around if you want to ask any other questions outside, too.

End of transcript

Join Jane Kim, artist and founder of Ink Dwell studio, and the talent behind the Cornell Lab’s new spectacular 3,000 square-foot mural, entitled From so Simple a Beginning. In this Monday Night Seminar, Kim discusses the four year process leading to the creation of her modern masterpiece that showcases 270 species from all modern bird families, and their prehistoric ancestors painted in exacting detail.