| Art |

Alexandra Bowers Is Creating New Art — and Seeking Community Involvement

Alexandra Bowers' work was part of "Flora and Fauna" at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum.EXPAND
Alexandra Bowers' work was part of "Flora and Fauna" at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum.
Lynn Trimble
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“Total strangers have been sending me pictures of feathers,” says Phoenix artist Alexandra Bowers.

Recently, she put out the call to community members, inviting them to send her photographs of random feathers they’ve found. It’s all part of creating new work for an upcoming exhibition called “A Murmuration of Found Feathers in Flight.”

The exhibition is scheduled to open in February 2021 at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, in a gallery that’s dedicated to showcasing works by Arizona artists. Bowers specializes in wood-burning, often etching elements of the natural world such as birds and botanicals.

For this exhibit, she’ll be etching feathers onto small circles of wood, using the photographs she receives as source material. “I’m asking people to send me photographs rather than the actual feathers,” she says. “Leaving the feathers in place is a way of honoring and respecting nature.”

Bowers conceived the project long before the advent of COVID-19, but says that social distancing is amplifying the exhibition’s central themes — including the importance of human connection and the healing power of nature.

“I try to get out in nature as much as possible — doing meditative walks that help me disconnect from the craziness of the world now,” she says. She’s hoping the project will inspire others to make their own connections with nature and each other.

“I want to create, with the help of the community, a place where people can walk in and feel a visceral sense of peace amid a chaotic world,” she says.

She’ll use movement to help make it happen, but wants people to be surprised when they walk into the space rather than knowing exactly what to expect. Some of her pieces will hang on gallery walls, whereas others will be suspended in the space.

“This installation is an evolution of my work,” Bowers explains.

In 2015, Bowers filled a shipping container gallery in Roosevelt Row with about 100 moth artworks. In 2017, she had a solo show called “Found Feathers” at Practical Art, which featured images of feathers she’d found. Last year, she showed larger-scale works, each depicting a different bird, at {9} The Gallery.

But now, Bowers' subject matter has an added layer of meaning. “We’re living in incredible times, when the whole world is having a shift in consciousness,” she says. “Birds represent the whole consciousness and perspective because they see the whole world.”

Bowers traces her fascination with feathers to a significant shift in her own life. “When my spiritual practice started to shift, that’s when feathers started showing up for me,” she says. She’d see them running errands, or look down from her desk to find a feather laying beside her. “Feathers are a language of nature, and nature is where I fill my cup.”

It’ll be several months before Bowers finishes wood-burning pieces for the exhibit, but she’s already imagining how people who send her photographs will feel when they step into the gallery.

“I hope people feel connected to what they helped to create," she says, "and know they had a hand in bringing it to life.”

Visit alexandrabowersart.com to learn how to participate in this project.

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