By Jules Shane
Still hovering overhead after a weekend of rain, more than 100 colorfully painted birds face south towards the bay above the main plaza of the Seaport Village. Migrating from their original home in Liberty Station, the Birds Without Paradise art installation arrived on Feb. 8 where it will be on display until April. Designed by Oaxacan artist Manuel Molina, the project was born out of a collaboration between Molina, the San Diego-Tijuana Smart Boarder Coalition, and the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), with funding from a Mexico-based industrial real estate developer Vesta.
Crafted from indigenously produced corn husks, with wings spanning about a meter, the birds were assembled and painted by 350 SDUSD students from seven schools in the district. Participating schools included Correia Middle School, Creative Performing and Media Arts Middle School, Marshal Middle School, Muirlands Middle School, Montgomery Middle School, the School for Creative and Performing Arts, and Wilson Middle School.
“This has been a terrific experience and opportunity for my art students,” said Muirlands Middle School teacher Patricia Cox in a press release. “Projects like this build community, confidence, and attention to important issues. This collaborative work demonstrates that art can be expressive and beautiful, and at the same time be activism and voice — a change agent in one’s heart and in the larger society!”
A sister exhibit was displayed in downtown Tijuana earlier this year, with birds flying over Calle Segunda. Beginning with the aim of raising awareness of bird trafficking in the region, Molina’s vision has evolved into an international project promoting cooperation across-the-boarder with an overall message of freedom.
— Jules Shane can be reached at email@example.com.