Carolina Songbird needle felted panel with cardinal

Carolina Songbird

Songbird for Author Show

It is almost time for the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts to present the yearly “It’s All About The Story” show tied to the work of a local author. I have a Carolina songbird, the cardinal, as my subject this time around. In a twist on our usual format for this show, we decided to honor the work of a songwriter and composer with Hillsborough ties, Billy Strayhorn.

Carolina Songbird needle felted panel with cardinal
Carolina Songbird

Take the A Train

Strayhorn was a jazz composer best known for his work with Duke Ellington and his orchestra. He composed what came to be known as the Ellington theme song, “Take the A Train“, based on Ellington’s written instructions for Streyhorn to get to his house.

I am not well versed in big bang jazz, so I decided to approach this theme as if we were looking at the work of a poet. I found my inspiration within the lyrics of a song titled Rose Room.

For their musicians are the birds and bees
And they will sing us a song
As we are strolling along

More Familiar Inspiration

I found additional inspiration for this piece in the photographic work of an artist even closer to home. In fact, within my own home. My daughter is a talented young photographer with an ever growing portfolio of impressive work. She snapped a striking image of a rather persistent male cardinal just outside her window.

Cardinal image by Alexcina Wartski
Cardinal inspiration by Alexcina Wartski

You see that the panel I needle felted is a stylized slice of this image. I was drawn to the strong contrast, and the play of depth-of-field in this photo. I tried to replicate those elements in the panel.

Show Opening

Come See Carolina Songbird and all the work inspired by Billy Strayhorn at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, February 24 through March 22. The opening reception for the show is during the Hillsborough art walk Friday, February 28, from 6 to 9pm.

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