Murmurations: For the Love of Birds


Since the beginning of time, birds have piqued our collective imagination. We have revered them through our religions, hunted and bred them for sustenance, created feathered fashions, studied their wings and beaks to engineer flight, and, more recently, attempted to protect endangered species and restore their habitats. 

Over the past 50 years, three billion birds–almost a third of the avian population–have disappeared from North America, caused primarily by habitat loss and degradation.

With an introduction that briefly tells the story of birding, the urgent need to save birds, and the importance of conservation for our society as a whole, Murmurations: For the Love of Birds includes the work of three contemporary visual artists who explore the topic through various media.

Carmen Ostermann’s ceramic work illustrates the avian crisis in elegant alabaster-colored sculptures. In her work, she depicts endangered species with organic elements encroaching on their bodies—a reference to ecological succession, the process of new life filling spaces after habitat destruction. “The labor-intensive nature of the work is a reciprocal offering of my time to the natural world,” Ostermann explains, “By building meticulously delicate sculptures, I create space for contemplation about our relationship with the environment.”

Alice Hargrave creates ethereal, abstract-patterned “portraits” using sound files to render wave patterns of actual bird calls. She photographs, layers, and tones the sound waves using the surprising colors of eyes, talons, plumage, and/or skin of each particular species, providing detailed rebuttals to the age-old argument “why save that simple brown bird.” The resulting printed silk fabric pieces are installed in layers throughout the exhibition and are paired with archival sound recordings.

In Carolyn Monastra’s ongoing series, “Divergence of Birds,” the artist photographs paper cutouts of climate-threatened birds within their current habitats—photos within photos—illustrating a present where actual birds are disappearing and a future in which only image facsimiles remain.

Because they are studied so widely, birds are excellent ecological barometers that enable us to “take the pulse of the planet.”  As such, this exhibition lends itself to a variety of audience engagement opportunities like facilitated discussions about climate activism, guided bird walks, and citizen science and art projects. Additionally, all three artists have extensive experience blending their expertise in art making, education, and birding and are available for panel discussions, workshops, and artist talks.

About the Artists

Ohio-based ceramicist Carmen Ostermann was raised in the United States, Canada, Japan, and the Philippines. She received a BFA in ceramics and sculpture at the University of Cincinnati, and completed an MFA at the Columbus College of Art & Design. Ostermann is the 2013 recipient of the Wolfstein Travel Fellowship (Frankfurt, Germany), the 2022 Ohio Designer Craftsmen’s Scholarship, the 2022 Greater Columbus Arts Council Individual Grant, and the 2022 Art at Audubon Artist Residency. Her work has been featured in the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History (NY), the Priscilla R. Tyson Cultural Arts Center (OH), the Ohio Craft Museum, the Sandra J. Blain Gallery (TN), and Manifest Gallery (OH). She has taught ceramics at Capital University (OH) and is the Administrative and Project Coordinator at the Columbus Audubon, blending her love of art, education, and conservation. (137 words)

Carolyn Monastra received her MFA in photography from the Yale School of Art and has participated in artistic residencies with Ucross (WY), the Djerassi Foundation (CA), Blue Mountain Center (NY), and the Skaftfell Visual Arts Center (Iceland). In 2012, she was selected as a Climate Leader by the Climate Reality Project and has received numerous awards, including a 2022 honorable mention for the Zeke Award for Systematic Change, a 2012 production grant from the Puffin Foundation, and a 2005 multi-media fellowship from BRIC Arts Media. Her work is held in various collections such as the Marguiles Collection (FL), Memorial Sloan Kettering (NY), and the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Art Collection (NJ). Monastra’s photography has been exhibited across the United States, China, Northern Ireland, and England. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. (130 words)

Alice Hargrave studied art and architectural history in Italy prior to obtaining an MFA from the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her photo-based artwork has been mounted in exhibitions at the Smart Museum (IL), Yale University Art Gallery (CT), the Tweed Museum of Art (MN), Art Metz (France), the Griffin Museum of Photography (MA), 516 Arts Gallery (NM), and the Newspace Center for Photography (OR). Her work can be found in various collections including, but not limited to, the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography (IL) and the Art Institute of Chicago Artist Book Collection (IL). Hargrave has been published and reviewed in several journals such as Huffington Post, BBC News, and ARTNET. Her research in ornithology has led her to artistic residencies in the Florida Keys, Montana, Northern Wisconsin, and a Ragdale Fellowship in Lake Forest, Illinois. (139 words)

Read More

Exhibition Details

Approximately 15 photographs, 6 suspended textiles, audio, and approximately 12 ceramic and glass works

(Some pedestals may be required by hosting venue.)

  • Content

    Fee Includes:
    Press Kit
    Registrar’s Packet
    Programming Guide
    Gallery Guide
    Text Panels
    Narrative Labels
    Full Insurance
    Installation Instructions
    Custom-Designed and Built Crates

  • Curated By


  • Organized By

    Mid-America Arts Alliance, ExhibitsUSA

  • Out-of-Region Rental Fee


  • In-Region Rental Fee


  • Duration

    7-week display

  • Shipping

    Van Line

  • Running Feet


  • Square Feet


  • Security


  • Number of Crates/Total Weight

    Approx. 6 crates

  • Insurance

    The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.

Tour Schedule

Murmurations: For the Love of Birds is touring January 2027 through January 2032. The dates below reflect seven-week exhibition periods. Dates are subject to change; please contact or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 for current availability.

Downloads & Resources

To view and download the factsheet for Murmurations: For the Love of Birds, click HERE.