15’x 12’x 10′
Steel, aluminum, powder coat paint
Commissioned by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission
Fred Fletcher Park; Raleigh, NC

At first glance, Redbird gives the impression of giant flowers swaying in the breeze, but, as one moves around it, he or she will notice that the red tops are not flower-like shapes, but irregular and angular segments.  The shapes are at odds with the graceful, tapered “stems”.  The design presents a puzzle to be solved.  When the viewer sees the oddly shaped red pieces as a unified form, he will recognize that form as a cardinal.

Few people will see the cardinal right away.  Some will be caught by surprise as they unconsciously link the pieces together.  Others will recognize the head, or a wing tip, and then realize the implied connection to the other pieces.  Some viewers will not recognize the form until shown by friends.  In any case, once the cardinal is seen, it becomes visible from any angle.

In developing my initial proposal for this project, I explored numerous design themes, eventually settling on the cardinal as a symbol because its designation as North Carolina’s state bird alludes to Raleigh’s role as the state capital.  I did not want to simply create a representation of a cardinal, but to use the cardinal as a springboard for developing a design that would first work at an abstract level, then reveal the representation of the cardinal.

Finding the right balance between abstraction and representation was challenging.  I developed the design within a CAD program, first creating the cardinal form, then dividing it into sections, and, finally, creating the stem-like supports.  I worked with pictures of cardinals and took measurements from a dead cardinal to get the correct proportions.  Developing and refining the design took several months.