I am a contemporary folk artist living and working in Fairbanks, Alaska. My art form is the North American bird decoy. Over the past 150 years or so, the creation and use of handmade bird decoys for hunting have gradually evolved into today’s modern forms of decorative bird carving and sculpture. The making of handmade hunting decoys still exists and is kept alive by dedicated aficionados of the art form. Today, carved and painted birds from “folksy” to “ultra-realistic” can be seen in shows, galleries, and other venues across North America.
In times past, waterfowl and shorebird decoys were used to aid in the harvest of vast amounts of wild birds to feed a growing new nation. Much of this activity was unregulated and led to devastating reductions, and in some cases, extinction, of migratory bird species. Once these hunting activities were brought under regulatory control, some populations recovered, while others, due to the continued destruction of critical habitats, did not. Wetlands were not user-friendly to North American industrial enterprises and were under constant threat and destruction.
In recent years, I have used my art to help promote the existence of these birds and the conservation and preservation of the Arctic regions and habitats that are crucial to their life cycles. It is of great joy to me that I can use this art form, that was once used to over harvest and threaten migratory bird populations, to increase the awareness of their existence, and to aid in the preservation of the habitats that are necessary for their survival.