"Kate Breakey: Ornithology" at Stephen L. Clark Gallery

Where late the sweet birds sang, where now resides the egg and eye


Sing a song of light and shadow, the complex melodies of particle and wave caught in chemicals upon a single page of paper. Or – never mind the paper, dear friend. How about the occasional square of finest silk instead?

Kate Breakey has taken so many photographs over the years, mainly – at least, the Australia-born artist has become renowned, mainly, for – photographs of dead things: delicate, wee creatures of feather or fur, deceased by human or maybe what some would call divine machination, arranged just so in final stasis, the staged images embellished colorwise by pigments wielded with subtle hand. Now, in "Ornithology," Breakey turns her life-hungry lens to those that fly. Or, rather, to where the winged ones come from before flight and where they rest between dismissals of gravity: eggs and nests, nests and eggs, fixed and framed and faintly enhanced with pastels or thread, bringing a sense of origin and domesticity to the walls of Stephen L. Clark's elegant gallery on West Sixth.

We could rhapsodize about the artist's technique and its marvelous results – we could if we were more versed in the minutiae of the photographic process, anyway – for what Breakey's wrought is nothing short of light-ensnaring wizardry in service of bringing her series of nests and the dappled eggs of quails secondhand to viewers' eyes. But we can only stand enraptured in our mild ignorance, soaking in the sublime rendition of these human artifacts of nonhuman artifice, realizing that considering all these nests and eggs without their birds instills a welcome sense of aloneness, of serenity.

That whole thing of being far from the madding crowd, as limned in Thomas Gray's old "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" and subverted by that other Thomas, Hardy, in his famous novel ... the madding crowd, these days, often tends to reside inside our heads like a frenzy of diseased grackles, insinuated there mainly by the internet and its ceaseless flood of social noise and signal. How rewarding a calm it is to retreat to the silent beauty of "Ornithology" within the Clark Gallery on an Austin afternoon; how restorative a respite it is while the crazed world cackles and flaps and eggs itself on toward collapse outside.


“Kate Breakey: Ornithology”

Stephen L. Clark Gallery, 1101 W. Sixth, 512/477-0828
www.stephenlclarkgallery.com
Through Sept. 7

Got opinions about theatre, art, dance, and everything else good in Austin? Let your voice be heard in our annual Best of Austin ballot. Voting is open now!

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Stephen L. Clark Gallery
"Keith Carter: Notes on the Universe" at Stephen L. Clark Gallery
This solo exhibition shows the photographer in pursuit of whatever unseen cosmic force animates us

Robert Faires, Dec. 29, 2017

A Sense of Place
A Sense of Place
For two decades, Stephen L. Clark's gallery has made a home for photographers of the region

Robert Faires, Oct. 18, 2013

More Arts Reviews
"Andy Coolquitt: Pinto Beans" at Bale Creek Allen Gallery
The artist's solo show is a public display of well-organized chaos, a sculptural nirvana of randomness and resourcefulness

Barbara Purcell, Sept. 20, 2019

“Valerie Fowler: The Story of the Deer in the Road”
“Valerie Fowler: The Story of the Deer in the Road”
Wonderfully painted memories of where the wild (and even-toed ungulate) things are

Wayne Alan Brenner, Sept. 20, 2019

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
Theatrical Provocateurs Rubber Repertory Return to Austin
Theatrical Provocateurs Rubber Repertory Return to Austin
Two of the best and oddest come back for their own good and ours

Sept. 20, 2019

Paper Chairs Makes Theatre With a Little Lone Star Surregionalism
Paper Chairs Makes Theatre With a Little Lone Star Surregionalism
The Texas premiere of Will Arbery's Plano play knows place like home

Sept. 20, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Stephen L. Clark Gallery, Kate Breakey

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Time to vote! Best of Austin 2019 balloting is underway   VOTE NOW