Pistachio Beak

So I was eating a pistachio and was pondering the shape of the shell.

A couple years ago I found a dead bird in a plastic bag on my front porch. It had decayed and mummified in the bag, as though someone had been saving it. I decided to use the skull to make a semi life-like quasi-true-to-anatomy sculpture of a bird. I think it was originally a cardinal, and ended up looking like some sort of flightless shore bird. Very curiosity cabinet-esque.  I ended up trading with the ceramicist of my thesis group, Tara Wright, for one of her pieces. I tried not to dwell too much on the fact that I had found it in a bag on my front step, but aside from that, I had been a little creeped out about using animal remains in a sculpture. Not that there is anything wrong with it, I love the work of artists who do so. Just made me feel a little tainted.

Back to the pistachio. The shell was sort of beak-ish. Thinking about the bird piece, I figured the beak would have been the hardest part to fake, and an idea formed. Working with the already unusual shape of a pistachio shell, also warped by roasting, I ended up being able to make what I feel is a fairly convincing beak out of two pistachio shells, or four halves. Not wanting to simply re-create the same bird, I decided to take it a bit further with the curiosity cabinet look, thinking about the fiji mermaid specifically.

The piece is still in progress, but I also kind of like the mechanical-ish look of the legs. Not sure how exactly I’ll end up skinning/painting it, or if I’ll add any more structural components, or how this ties in to the rest of my art practice, but I had an afternoon and it was a lot of fun. Enjoy.

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