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December 28, 2018 @ 6:30 pm
“What a poignant and beautiful book. Alberto Rey catalogues seventeen birds that have vanished from the face of the earth—the Black Mamo and the Laughing Owl, the Pink-headed Duck, the Imperial Woodpecker, and the Paradise Parrot. In moving prose, he tells the stories of their lives and their demise, who collected the last remaining birds of their kind and why. And he memorializes their “small, lifeless, feathered bodies” in photographs and paintings so full of feeling they take your breath away. This is a book to keep around and to give to others, to remind us all of the disappearance of beloved bird species occurring all around us. ”
Jennifer Ackerman, author of the New York Times Bestseller, The Genius of Birds.
“Alberto Rey’s extinct bird project is primarily an effort to question what we as humans stand to lose when an organism, fashioned by millions of years of evolution, goes extinct. As a visual artist he has tackled questions of geographical identity, and death and decay, of pollution by the hand of man, and the activity of human predation (he’s a renowned catch and release fly fisherman). The beautiful, though viscerally dark and haunting paintings he has created for this exhibition and book plumb equally complex and richly wrought subject matter. What does it mean to collect specimens? Is it worth killing an animal so future generations of humans can study them? Rey’s work communicated the wondrous experience of seeing and touching the plumage and colors of a creature as mysterious as a bird. This experience would be hard to duplicate without the specimen. I will leave the conclusions to the viewer, about whether or not collecting should be done in the 21st century. But the provocation is Rey’s contribution to this intensely interesting history of humans observing and depicting things in nature.”
James Prosek, author of eleven books and an Peabody Award winner and selected for the New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choicefor his “Eels: An Exploration, From New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World’s Most Mysterious Fish”which was made into a PBS series.
About the Author
Born in Havana, Cuba in 1960, Alberto Rey received his political asylum through Mexico in 1963 and moved to Miami, Florida in 1965. In 1967, his family relocated to Barnesboro (now called Northern Cambria), Pennsylvania. He lived in this small coal-mining town until 1982 when he finished his B.F.A from Indiana University of Pennsylvania after attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. After graduation, he lived in Boston, Massachusetts for a short period before heading to Miami to work on Christo’s Surrounded Islands Project. In 1987, he received his M.F.A. in Drawing and Painting and began traveling throughout Spain, Italy, Morocco and Mexico. The following year while teaching in Lincoln-Sudbury High School, The Art Institute of Boston, New England School of Art and Design, and the Museum of Fine Arts, he enrolled in courses at Harvard University in contemporary art and environmental studies. In 1989, he accepted a teaching position at The State University of New York in Fredonia where he is now a Distinguished Professor.
His writings, artwork and films reflect on contemporary society and exlores connections between environmental issues, perspectives in contemporary art theory and art history, biology, economics and urban migration. Alberto’s work can be found in over twenty museum collections and have been presented in around 200 exhibitions.
In 2014, the first book outlining Rey’s work, Life Streams – Alberto Rey’s Cuban and American Art, was published by SUNY Press. In 2016, Alberto wrote and illustrated his first book about the the holiest and most polluted river in Nepal,Complexities of Water: Biological Regionalism: Bagmati River, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. His most recent book, published a few months ago, Extinct Birds Project, examines the cause for extinctions seventeen bird species and explores the science of collecting and the lives of collectors.
He has also combined this research with his interest in sharing the spirituality of fly fishing to become an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide and the Founder and Director of the Children in the Stream/ 4H Youth Fly Fishing Program for the past 20 years.