I have always loved crows. Growing up in the mountains of Appalachia, they were part of the landscape and have held a special place in my life and art. Looking back, I now see that their appearance and reappearance have given me the gift of an honest, unedited reflection of my life.
The first crow I remember drawing is one I worked on during my high school years. Back then, I used to wait until everyone in the house was asleep before I went down to draw in the basement where I had set up a drawing table. I remember this faceless crow in that silent space. It reveals an early fascination with birds and feathers. This drawing does not show a face, and most people I drew then did not have mouths. This first crow gives an honest, unintentional insight to a young girl who was often quiet, and for whatever reasons, did not recognize or feel comfortable with her voice.
In college, I can recall two crow drawings, both of which included clocks or clock numbers. I now find this interesting as I recently learned that crows are often associated with the passing of time.
Three years ago, the crow drawing above was exhibited in my old hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I drew this entangled crow in the middle of a long, and often difficult marriage. I hadn’t seen it since the show and was completely surprised by what I now recognized. It is so different from how I had remembered it. If I would have described this drawing without looking at it again, I would have said the crow had finally found its voice and was screaming fiercely, trying to free itself from the string. Looking at it now, however, I see it and that time period much more clearly. Today I don’t see a crow ready to escape. I one still very much entangled. And although it may have had some sort of voice, it reveals a great deal of sadness and resignation. Again, the crow is tangled in string. Again, it is not able to fly.
In the past couple years, I began drawing again and have probably finished more work in the last year than I had during the previous thirty. I continue to work off and on with the idea of crows. They are always with me. But now, after deliberate changes in my life, I no longer think of crows with string. I no longer struggle with voice or no voice. I am past all that! When I think of crows now, I think of feathers, freedom, and flight.
In my life, crows have shown up often, bringing with them insightful and sometimes brutally honest reflections of my life. Recently, I finished a drawing incorporating a line from a poem I wrote last year. The crow is no longer tangled. It is a crow in flight.
When I breathe
I breathe the breath
of a thousand crows in flight
- Beth Adoette
The full poem can be read here...
Subscribe to my "Circle of Friends" newsletter to receive back stories of my contemplative art, notifications of new prints, and specials on prints, books, and events. Subscribe here.