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Painter Kevin Sloan on "Burden of Formality" and his "Birds of America" Series

One of our newest puzzles is Kevin Sloan's 21st century painting of a parrot weighed down by tea-cups called Burden of Formality.  

To me, this painting is all about British India and colonialism, and we gave it an ornate British-India inspired edge and whimsies.  It's actually part of a series of Kevin Sloan paintings titled "Birds of America" (couple more paintings in this series pictured below) just like the famous John James Audubon study. 

We asked him to tell us about it:

Kevin Sloan: "I've always been a big fan of Audubon's work but a few years ago I started to really study the famous series, "Birds of America".  I was intrigued by the very odd poses he would place the birds - often somewhat unnatural and contorted poses that didn't make much sense to me.  

Then I learned that he often did this to allow the entire bird to fit into the the confines of the sheet of paper in the largest size possible.  For example, the Great White Heron is kind of squatting as though something was on it's back.  But, Audubon wanted to maximize the size of the bird on the sheet so he kind of folded it up onto the page.  Otherwise, had he painted it standing for example, the bird would have had to be much smaller in relation to the paper.  

Having said all that, what really intrigued me were these odd poses often looking like the birds had something on their backs.  So, I decided this was an opportunity to revisit Audubon's work, a collaboration, if you will.  I wanted to be as loyal as possible to his depictions but insert them into a contemporary context and with the addition of another element they would be interacting with." 

For another take on Kevin Sloan's Birds of America series, check out the Scientific American coverage of it.

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