Bird is the word

Technology and artistry take wing in Idea Fab Lab exhibit



Taking Over: The Works of Christian V. Davila shows through July 13.
Viewing hours: Mondays, 5-7 p.m.
Idea Fab Labs
603 Orange St.

Birds so permeate our environment that it’s possible we take their presence for granted. The chirps, coos and squawks that sing their presence and the soft flutter of wings rushing overhead are hardly noticed as we rush about our own earthbound errands.

In her new exhibit, Taking Over, young sculptor and crafter Christian V. Davila celebrates the beauty and mystery of our winged friends with a moving show filled with lovely re-creations of several dozen birds of varying sizes flying around the exhibition space at Idea Fab Labs.

Beautifully announcing the theme of the exhibition is a mock book on the first wall entering the gallery. With the words “Taking Over” in calligraphy on the front, the piece emits a flock of pages that have been cut into the silhouettes of birds taking flight from between its covers. It’s birds and words all aflutter in motionless movement. And words are as much a thread throughout the show, with laser-cut book pages applied in intricate layers to the bodies of all the birds, giving them wings and plumage.

During the reception (June 16), Davila—with a wing of brunette hair grazing her left ear and wearing a smock decorated with prints of assorted avian creatures—was a bit birdlike herself. The artist graciously guided me to the workshop within the Idea Fab Labs compound, where she initially crafted the templates for the models of the bodies and feet of her birds to then be “printed” on the lab’s high-tech 3D printer. There also were two-dimensional templates used to program the lab’s laser cutter to create the pages of “feathers.”

Asked about what initially inspired the subject of the show, Davila recalled taking a community college art class in which the vast majority of students were doing paintings. She wanted to do something different. “So, I started by making a bird from ceramic clay, but when I got to the wings, the material was too heavy to support or convey the delicacy and lightness of the feathers, so I got the idea to try making the wings out of paper. And what was available was pages from magazines, and I really liked the way the layers looked, so I kept working on it.”

And her joyful diligence and craftsmanship are evident in each piece, from the tiny “Blue Bird” suspended above eye level from the gallery ceiling to the pedestal-bound “Las Vegas” coming in for a landing on its own gracefully arched display platform.

The title “Taking Over” may initially strike an aggressive tone for an exhibition that is essentially a playful exploration and expression of the way our minds process physical nature. Davila’s work is an effective blend of whimsy, technology and craftsmanship, and her delicate flock encourages contemplation of the relationship between what we see in—and what we think about—the world around us.