When We Were Birds is a limited edition book that integrates poems and images from the exhibition When We Were Birds. This is the fourth collaboration between Judy Anderson and poet Ginny Hoyle. Poems and images are printed on archival watercolor paper and bound into books. Ten of the books are mounted on a wall in the gallery embedded in steel forms by Christopher Hecker, who also made the platforms for the sculpted volumes. A second edition of books are case-bound into books with wood covers. Denver artist Efrain Cruz is the installation’s photographer whose images are incorporated in the printed book and wall prints. A short video of poetry and images appeared in an alcove of the exhibition, allowing the viewer to experience the soul of the exhibition.
When We Were Birds, 2011
Out of reckless hope. Out of brilliance spilled by the first split star, out of everything that is and ever was, babies happen. Slide Tab A into Slot B and stand back. The mighty wheels turn, the vast ocean of the genome stirs and here we are.
When we were birds the sky went on forever and the earth flew up to meet us in a haze of startled light. Then I was a child with wings, and the air a living thing as every flying child knows.
Give a child a box and she makes a life to fit inside. Then she is at home. This is where Mommy sleeps…this is where baby sleeps…now we get up…over and over all the world over…where is Daddy?
Once I was rooted in the loam of Eden. Once I rocked the cradle of a peaceful world. Then I was a woman who swept and baked and sang. There was reaping, there was chopping, there was soup on the stove.
And then, the more we tried the more we failed, the more we talked the less we heard, the closer we pressed, the faster we flew apart. Until the heavens and the silenced birds were falling down around us in the broken dark.
Then I was a woman in a house on fire, dazed by heat bending light into fear, the searing illusion of searing truth. I lived so hard in that fiery home, at long last it taught me this: out of great pain, the heart breaks open—fearless, spilling light.
Slowly, my practice changed. I kissed the hem of each new day and breathed as gently as you press a pear to see if it is ripe, as slowly as you separate your hand from the back of a sleeping child. And I praised this life, a late-March garden where new growth stands on the bones of the old.
Then I was a woman rising on a column of song and the air a living thing as every singing woman knows. So much to forgive, so much to regret. So much to lose, so much to love before the light fades.
~ Ginny Hoyle