Saturday, March 5, 2011


I just finished my first week at Cornell. Wow. I am soooo happy to be here. I've always loved painting birds, but this is so much more than painting them for beauty sake. It is incredibly exciting to be learning about them from a scientific front. It makes me have a deeper appreciation for them. Never a bad thing.


This the director of the Bartels Science Illustration Internship. She's awesome. Diane obviouslycares very much for each person that comes through and does what she can to make them feel very welcome and taken care of. I'm really excited to be working with her. She gave me a tour of the facilities and I was so inspired by it, I ended up taking almost 100 pictures on my first day. I won't post all of them, but as a warning, this post will have a lot.

I was very impressed with the architecture of the lab. Being a facility of birds, you can imagine that seeing them would be really important. A huge portion of the building is windows and there are telescopes and binoculars everywhere. I love seeing people come and go to peer out into a beautiful landscape in search of birds. My work station is located in the staff lounge. I'm surrounded by windows and people coming in and out all day long. I like the activity. Although I'm very good at working in isolation, it's nice to have people around throughout the day.


The small pond of water is actually heated by Cornell so that there is a spot for the ducks all winter long. I don't get how they sit on the snow like that. I understand that their well insulated, but I always get really cold looking at them.

I share the space with the other intern--Evartisto Hernandez Fernandez. I love his name! He is quite talented and his work is beautiful. I don't have a pic of one of his full color acrylic paintings, but I do have a pic of one of his studies. I love seeing that sort of thing.

I think one of my favorite moments of my first day was walking into the staff lounge where our work stations are and seeing on the white board, a drawing of this....

This is Bender from Futurama, one of my all time favorite shows in the whole world. I gave Evaristo a big hug when I found out that he drew it. Did I just reveal too much of my dorkiness?

The Lab has a wonderful little library, again with a ton of windows, and a little area in the back where you're surrounded by them.

One of the other things I really appreciated about the Lab is all the art that's hanging throughout the building. It was eye candy for me. I spent a good portion of my first day looking at all of it.

One artist that Cornell that is particularly relevant the Lab of Ornithology is Louis Agassiz Fuertes. He was an alumnus of Cornell and a really influential wildlife artist of his time and beyond. I took a few photos of his work and his Wikipedia page has a handful of really stunning works.

I really appreciate the two paintings below because he did something that most people (including myself) don't normally do. He put the birds in their setting as well as show how they camouflage so well in their environment. I love that. At first glance, you don't even really notice that there are birds.

These black & whites were donated after being found in the trash at the publishing house Fuertes created these for. It's crazy to me that they were thrown out. I always forget that there are people out there who couldn't care less about art. I'm so glad they were found and salvaged.

Fuertes completed many many commissions in his day. The Lab is pretty lucky to have a pretty big one passed down to them. Fuertes was commissioned by one of his friends to create panels for his study. When his friend passed, Cornell got a hold of each of these panels and reused them to build an auditorium--The Fuertes Room. On display right outside, Cornell also has the sketches of each of these panels Fuertes painted as an example of the final pieces.

Here are some pictures of other pieces that I particularly like. You can also see the full art collection HERE.


So the painting above is by Charley Harper. He is well-known for his highly stylized paintings of wildlife. This painting was commissioned by the Bartels (creators of the Bartel's Science Illustration Internship) specifically for Cornell's Lab of Ornithology. These are many of the birds found in Ithaca hovering over the Lab. Cornell also hosts exhibitions of bird art and Harper is the current exhibit. Don't know if you noticed, but they used one of his birds in their logo. I love his work. Stylization is sort of difficult for me and when I see other's doing it so beautifully, I'm always very impressed. I tend to get too caught up in the realism of the animal and even the one's that are more stylized always end up having a bit of realism.

Let's see....I should wrap this up. Here are some more pics of cases containing taxidermed birds.

So, the Lab not only does bird stuff! They are also very well known for their Bioacoustics department. My roommate, Annamaria, works on whale vocalizations there. Cornell has the largest collection of animal vocalizations in the world and you can listen to their collection in the sound lab. They also have a media room where you can watch short documentaries. You can see why my first week here was so inspiring. There is so much here. I haven't even mentioned how cool Ithaca is as a place! I've only just begun to explore and as I become more familiar with it, I'll put up a post dedicated to the city.

K. That's good for now. I have more about the facilities but it can be clumped in a later post. This Friday, I'm learning how to skin and stuff a bird specimen. The other pictures I'm leaving out here are of the specimen collection at the Lab. But these can be combined with the pictures I'm planning on taking Friday.

Later skaters!!!

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