The majestic Snowy Owl is ready for takeoff at 148th Street & Broadway, giving viewers a glimpse of its nearly seven-foot wingspan. This work is part of the installation, Nicolas Holiber: Birds on Broadway, the Audubon Sculpture Project, featuring ten oversized sculptures of New York City birds that are in danger of extinction due to climate change.
Presented by the Broadway Mall Association in partnership with NYC Parks and NYC Audubon, the exhibition is displayed along the Broadway malls, a tree-lined greenway between 64th and 157th Streets in Manhattan from May 2019 through January 2020.
Each sculpture is made entirely out of reclaimed lumber. This artistic conservation is both practical and conceptual. Although painted, the wood used for the sculptures is not weatherproofed. Instead, each work is left untreated to allow for the city’s natural forces to affect it, highlighting the environmental challenges faced by each species. Holiber’s intent, to lend meaning and subject matter to objects that previously had neither, is amplified when paired with the exhibition’s alarming message about climate change.
The ten birds in this exhibition were chosen from the Birds and Climate Change Report, released in 2014 by the National Audubon Society. This study warned that half of all North American bird species will be imperiled over the coming decades due to shifting and contracting habitat zones resulting from climate change. From among the 145 threatened species that reside in or migrate through New York, Holiber chose to showcase the American bittern, brant, common goldeneye, double-crested cormorant, hooded merganser, peregrine falcon, red-necked grebe, scarlet tanager, snowy owl, and wood duck. In addition to raising awareness for this serious cause, Nicolas Holiber: Birds on Broadway, the Audubon Sculpture Project reflects the role of urban green space, such as the Broadway malls, in countering climate change by producing oxygen, moderating temperatures, and providing bird habitat. Holiber is the youngest artist to have a solo exhibition presented by the Broadway Mall Association.