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Messages From Crows

When I Breathe Nature Print

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

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