AviFauna: Wild Soul in Art


Tell me, how is your wild soul doing?

What I mean by that is this: where do you find your wildness when you cannot get out into the big outdoors wild? Are you in touch with your wild within?

Our experience of, and with, the natural wild can be dammed up for so many reasons: physical or spiritual injury; displacement from wild place or community, or both; loss of confidence, of self, through dedication to work or study or the needs of children, spouses, and other such agents of wildness.

What do you do when your self feels separated from the wild universe? To what do you refer in order to stoke that wild part of you, when it yearns to commune with the rest of the cosmos, and cannot? Where do you go to release the rebel yell, to complete the wild return? And in the meanwhile, how do you craft your reserves, stock your woodpile of internal wild in order to last you through these winters?

Here is how I discover and re-discover my wildness:

I stay as naked as possible in my apartment. It is, in the tradition of many New York apartments, grossly overheated, which makes this behavior possible—nay, necessary.

I act like my baby, move with her, bathe with her, crawl with her and eye the world from her level, embracing her animality in all ways.

I keep a windowside garden of unruly potted trees that have been with me for five and ten years, across states and life chapters. I dress them up, twist them to offer sunnier angles. Talk to them, as my mother taught me to do.

I cultivate wildness of thought, of word, of literature, music, readings, texts and podcasts. I like for them to bleed outside their pages, cross-pollinate, talk to each other. To list these influences even in part would exceed the word count of Writing The Wild.

I walk, often and everywhere, feeling the rhythms of my body, and when I don’t do this I ride the beating swaying pulsing screaming subway, which owns a rhythm of its own.

I practice love as deeply and truly as possible.

And I dwell in art.



New York City is a glorious place for this, and while I regret its simulacra-level replacement of nature by human construction, I welcome this city’s naturally inspired art as acknowledgment, even if unconsciously, of humanity’s participation in nature and communal need for more-than-human inspiration.

Last week my baby and I strollered a mile away to our neighborhood retreat of Wave Hill. Here, we took in that New York experience of cultured wild that invites all the usual questions: what is wild? Can a human-crafted, human-touched, nurtured place also be natural? And what does that hifalutin word, natural, even mean? Does that flower care if a person planted its seed, in a pot or line or row or bed instead of a wildly, more-than-humanly thrown landscape?

I believe Wave Hill knows this about itself, reckons with it better than other places I’ve explored. Here the dance is not hidden; galleries weave themselves into gardens, which border the woods, glaciated hills and mighty Hudson River.

This time we lingered in the delicious exhibit AVIFAUNA, in the park’s Glyndor Gallery.


This multi-artist exhibit plots artificial birds—two-dimensional, three-dimensional and digital—against actual natural landscapes and habitats, highlighting the surprising reality of New York City as one of the world’s great birding meccas, despite its urban context.

I’ll leave you with images of several works; should you find yourself in New York City this spring, head to Wave Hill and check them out!


3 thoughts on “AviFauna: Wild Soul in Art

  1. Love this, Hilary! Where do I find my inner wild? My next blog post may touch on that a bit… One thing I do now that I am home is to remain in silence most mornings, to make and drink tea and look out at Electric Peak when it is visible (today low clouds obscure it), and to come to my mat. Only after that will I eat breakfast and start the day. Some days are smoother than others, but my intentions remain the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was born on Long Island in New York State myself. Although I traveled throughout NYC, I’ve never come across Wave Hill. I will surely look it up next time I’m in the area. The way you give it kudos tells me it must be really something. And I just happen to be a curious person.

    I live in the country, and can get my wild on simply taking a stroll outside my house on a hill by the light of the moon.

    Let’s just say I creep. I imagine I’m a big black cat. Once my eyes are trained on the darkness, I’m happy to strut around wild and free. I don’t usually yell, but after reading your post, I just may!

    Liked by 1 person

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