ARTWORK + > Close to You

Close to You
Close to You
3D printed bio-polymer birds scanned from different species found lying dead under Chicago windows, locally made aluminum and brass rods, metallic thread, vintage musical score, International Klein Blue paint, chemically etched glass
74in x 304in x 32in

Why do [stars fall down from the sky]

Every time you are near
Just like me, they long to be

Close to you

Why do [birds suddenly appear]
Every time you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be

Close to you

––- As sung by Karen Carpenter, with lyrics in brackets transposed by the artist

Each year in the U.S. up to 1 billion birds die from window strikes, many during nighttime migrations. Each collision leaves a mark from the dust and oil on well-traveled feathers—a monoprint encountered on the glass of our homes and offices.

We long to be close to the natural world, but as birds come close to us—they often lose their lives. The glass of the work's vitrine bears a record of these ghostly moments of impact—chemically etched into the glass as a permanent memorial.

Within the case itself, silvered birds seem suspended in motion. Over the course of a single migration season, the artist encountered nine bird who all died in impacts with Chicago windows. The small feathered bodies were 3D scanned to be memorialized in the nine official constellations named for birds: Apus, Aquila, Columba, Corvus, Cygnus, Grus, Pavo, Phoenix, Tucana. Reminding us of flight and falling, release and responsibility, migration and homecoming, these avian stars hang in a sky the blue of a perfect Chicago summer evening.

The work’s title, Close to You hints at the artist’s deeper motivations and points us towards the subtly edited lyrics you read above, represented by a vintage, collaged musical score lying open in the corner of the vitrine. In this context, these familiar, saccharine-sweet lyrics take on a new and poignant meaning—a love song between humans and birds the artist hopes we might consider singing differently.

Close to You is a permanent installation at the O'Hare International Airport. The project was commissioned by the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and curated by Ionit Behar and Andrew Schachman. Kendler's work and that of the other commissioned artists can be seen by all those returning home to Chicago—or arriving for the first time—in the International Arrival Terminal 5.

Top Image Credit: Photo by Patrick Pyszka, City of Chicago
Bottom Image Credit: Photo by the artist