A Big Year: Avian Art in the Johnson Collection

Whether lured by their intricate songs, intrigued by their ability to fly, or captivated by their colorful plumage, humans have long been enthralled by birds. Artistic depictions of birds—as symbols of freedom, power, wisdom, or peace—date to the dawn of civilization. Interest in avian art advanced from the late eighteenth century through contemporary era, and as culture confronts the dangers of climate change—and its threat to avian habitat, health, migration, and survival—humanity’s need to meaningfully connect with and to nature is acute. 

The Johnson Collection's spring exhibition, A Big Year, features twenty-six artists' interpretations of these winged creatures. The exhibition will be on display in TJC Gallery from April 19 through July 1, 2023. 

Exhibition Programming

April 20: Hands-on ArtWalk origami bird workshop from 5 to 8 pm
May 11: An evening of poetry and ornithology with Dr. J. Drew Lanham at 6:30 pm
May 18: Self-guided birding in the gallery from 5 to 8 pm
June 15: Gallery talk by exhibition curator Aimee Wise at 6:30 pm

Dr. J. Drew Lanham
Birding in the Gallery

On Feathered Wings...

On May 11 at 6:30 pm, distinguished professor of wildlife and award-winning author, Dr. J. Drew Lanham read selections from his avian-inspired poetry, Sparrow Envy: A Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts, and gave a gallery talk for our spring exhibition A Big Year: Avian Art in the Johnson Collection.

Dr. J. Drew Lanham spoke on May 11 at 6:30 pm in the Citizens and Southern Event Center. After the presentation, he visited TJC Gallery for a book signing.

Dr. Lanham's research centers on songbird ecology and the role of African-Americans in natural resource conservation. The South Carolina native serves on wildlife and birding conservation and advisory boards nationally, including the Audubon Society. Lanham is an award-winning author and poet, recipient of the 2022 MacArthur Fellowship, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize.

He read selections from his 2021 book of poetry Sparrow Envy: Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beastsdiscussed TJC's new exhibition, A Big Year, and previewed his upcoming publication. This event was in collaboration with Hub City Bookshop & Press. The lecture was held in the Citizens and Southern Event Center at 148 West Main Street, to accomodate more attendees. After the presentation, Dr. Lanham joined us next door in TJC Gallery for a book signing and to view the exhibition.


Photo Credit courtesy of John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and  Joel Caldwell with Filson