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The art of paying attention
With ravens as the catalyst, the non-fiction essays, shared stories, and intricate drawings in Listening to Raven invite readers to observe, with unbounded curiosity, the wildlife that flies, crawls, and skitters along with us in our changing environment. Both intimate and universal, the book’s mixed-media palette of experiences, observations, and my award-winning visual art encourages readers to actively discover their integrated place in nature and, in the process, nurture this planet we call home. The broader appeal of Listening to Raven is that each of us, using only the tools of our eyes and mind, can gain and enjoy a deeper appreciation of our place in nature.
If you pay attention long enough, you can see a whole world in your own yard and once you start looking, it’s hard to stop.
Drawing ravens is an intimate process that involves preening each bird gently into existence until a unique character emerges from the page to tell me why he is here.
The combination of art, story-catching, and citizen science is inspiring people who never before looked at birds with curiosity to bring me their personal observations of clever raven behavior, while others come forward with spiritual stories, often telling of ravens as messengers and guides. The Raven segment of Encyclopedia of Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico by is illustrated with The Reason Why along with my explanation of Raven calling me to New Mexico to draw and collect first person stories of interactions with this clever corvid and iconic spirit guide.
To my delight, Listening To Raven inspires people to bring me stories of science and spirit. Strangers ask for face-to-face telling of stories so big, I have to go see; experiences so personal, I want to be there.
An assortment can be found on My Wild Life blog and:
Is that an egg in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?The Zenchilada food and culture magazine;2014 AZ ILLUSTRATED NATURE ~ AZPM TV and ARIZONA SPOTLIGHT radio interview.(radio link via same page)
What’s your story?Please click here to share.
Listening to Raven, in-progress, won the 2013 Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award for Non-Fiction.
Orion magazine published Walks Like a Man with my essay on the Las Conchas fire that roared through New Mexico, destroying raven habitat. The flockflew across the digitally looped Art Billboard Project in Albany, New York and Walks Like a Man roosted at the New York State Museum in the Focus on Nature exhibition of work by international scientific illustrators.
Dr. Peter Stacey, Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque:
"Most ravens seem to have a love of life and joy of play that connect easily with people.
The drawings of Beth Surdut capture this aspect of ravens as well as or better than any artist I have seen. Not only are they anatomically correct and the postures shown accurate, but after looking at one her drawings for awhile, I am always left with the question—“I wonder what that bird is thinking?" Surdut is able to capture this without making her ravens look like "little people"-- the birds in her drawings actually do look, and behave, just like ravens do."
Hand-signed, professional archival prints are available for purchase.
Like life, there's more to these pieces than black and white. Color nuances/details are not fully represented here. Each original and print may be surrounded with more white than shown.
Support the project by buying prints! All images are copyrighted and should not be downloaded.
Prices range $150-$425 USD
Bird guide author/artist/juror David Allen Sibley included The Ravens of Truth and Memory in the For the Birds exhibition at Brush Gallery in Lowell, Massachusetts.
The flock roosted at the Randall Davey Audubon Center Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a solo exhibit with story-catching, and at the Commissioner’s Gallery at the New Mexico State Land Office.