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Nesting creativity


A Framers Touch goes to the birds for inspiration this month

A bird's nest is a symbol of home. But what of the wind-blown nests that tumble to the ground after the spring mating season?

For Jan Shield, art professor emeritus of Pacific University, the lost nests he found on the grounds of his country home formed inspiration for new work on display this month at A Framer's Touch in Forest Grove.

Shield's exhibit encompasses a series of ink drawings, acrylic paintings on canvas or panels and small clay creations that relay the literal and figurative meaning of nesting.

The public is invited to a Sept. 5 opening reception, which will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at A Framer's Touch.

Shield’s fascination with bird's nests is an ongoing one. His recent works are an extension of larger collaborative art installations shown in 2008 with a group of other artists called, “Nest Project," displayed in a three-part series on YouTube.

Sheild taught at Pacific University for 40 years and headed the art department for 21years. He now lives with his wife on a beautiful forest property called “Dancing Trees.” His home looks out over the Yamhill County Pinot Noir valley that runs from Chahalem Ridge to Bald Peak.

It is there that Shield’s creative expressions take flight. After discovering a number of nests blown from grand fir trees, he parted from his more abstract and regional paintings to investigate the intricacies and expressive potential of the dwellings that little feathered creatures make in the woods.

Shield reflects on the fragile balance that all living creatures — birds and humans — exist within.

Shield first experimented with larger-scale pieces — like one he constructed in a clearing using over one hundred fir and maple branches spanning 18 feet and rising 12 feet in the air. Since that undertaking, however, Shield has begun to downsize.

His most recent works offer a more intimate look at human-made bird houses, which Jan likes to mount atop fence posts around his pastures.