Curatorial Projects > By-product Becomes Product (2013)

Barbara Holmes
feed/rest/nest, 2013
Custom sawdust/paper fiber composite boards, milk paint, shellac

“Much of wildlife habitat has been lost due to industry/human activity such as logging and growing urbanization that continues to usurp important natural landscapes. The presence of birds, their busy activity and often-pleasant calls, is often associated with healthy environments. One way we can assist in the dwindling habitat for birds in our urban areas is providing them temporary shelter from the cold and hospitable spaces to feed and nest in our yards and gardens.

Wood composite materials (e.g. plywood, OSB, MDF, etc.) in general help reduce the impact of logging through their use of wood waste and by-products of timber milling. Unfortunately, many of these contain unhealthy chemicals, resins, and binders considered harmful to humans and the environment. We wouldn’t consider them for building a birdhouse, yet many of us continue to use and live with harmful composites in our own homes and workplaces.

The birdhouses here are built from a newly developed wood composite that is non-toxic and completely biodegradable. This new material not only addresses resource sustainability, recyclability, and environmental impact, but also takes into consideration the maker/builder along with the end user, resulting in a much healthier and holistic cycle of production and use.

These houses, an architectural blend of birdhouse, garden shed, and post-war ranch style home, can be seen as microcosms of our own dwellings. The palette used is a combination of colors from my neighborhood and back yard, colors we often associate with the vibrant Victorian homes so iconic to the Bay Area. The exterior of the houses have been painted and sealed to protect them from weather with non-toxic and biodegradable finishes (milk paint and shellac) making these birdhouses safe enough to go in the compost at the end of their life and use.

At the close of this exhibition, the birdhouses will be placed in my yard and the yards of friends for potential habitation this nesting season. I plan to track their use and test their durability. You can follow my documentation @” – Barbara Holmes

By-product Becomes Product

February 6 – March 30, 2013
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA

Photo credit: Scott Chernis