Their World | Their Ways

Excerpt from essay written by Curator Sinead Finnerty-Pyne for the exhibition "Their Ways" at the Armory Center for the Arts.

Curt LeMieux is a keen observer of nature. Meditating in the less-than-peaceful urban environment of his neighborhood – characterized in part by the sights, sounds, and smells of traffic from the adjacent Interstate 5 Freeway – LeMieux finds beauty in the colors, patterns, rhythms, sounds, and movements of riparian wildlife, specifically the birds that live nearby on the banks of the Los Angeles River. About his visceral desire to engage the communicative process, to understand "their ways" while continuing to remain in the role of a distant observer, LeMieux says, "I receive an occasional glimpse, at times I formulate ideas, I become excited, but in the end I stand apart from the other creatures, a lone human inhabiting a world filled with life and activity." 

Ever mindful of the presence of birds, the idea for a series of work on the subject arose while thumbing through the richly illustrated pages of a 1976 book entitled Birds: Their Life, Their Ways, Their World. The variety of species in this reference volume sparked reflections on the infamous British Petroleum oil spill of summer 2010 and the broader ecological degradation that has unfolded over the course of the artist's lifetime. LeMieux began to consider the ways birds have been forced to adapt to the influence of human industry and development. In his mixed media collages, derived from the encyclopedia illustrations, LeMieux alludes playfully to the idea of birds in flight. The found images are built up, turned upside down, and even torn in places, reflecting the movement of birds in flight as well as the disruption of their natural habitats.