We’re no stranger to birds in art, being enormous fans of the work of artist David Tomb and the graphic design of Charley Harper and we love bird houses. But we’d not yet seen anything like the paintings of Emmet Dugan which depict birds in houses quite a bit differently.
Bird Houses by Emmet Duggan
The paintings of Emmet Duggan feature bird houses, but not the kind you’re used to. These artworks feature bird houses of a different sort; fully furnished environments suited to humans. Living amongst scaled down living rooms and perched atop tiny upholstered chairs, his birds become surreal, larger-than-life elements in a world recognized as our own as opposed to the small natural element they are within nature.
I spent my mornings finding birds on my iPad, building rooms from scratch, looking at fabrics and wallpaper and imagining what kind of painting my bird friends would enjoy.- Emmet
Never the same species twice, his colorful birds often share their space with an animal of a different kind such as an elephant, a dog, a winged horse and even a sloth. Emmet is adept at adding patterned wallpaper, upholstery and carpets that compliment rather than clash with his colorful feathered friends, adding to the pop-surreal appeal of the pieces.
With both larger paintings and a series of single birds perched atop chairs in his oeuvre, Emmet’s artworks are on the affordable end of the spectrum for collectors – $600 for the smaller pieces and up to $3900 for his larger works.
Currently a teacher at University of Arkansas’ Cossatot Community College, Emmet has been ensconced in art – both the study of it and the execution of it – since his early teens. After entering a drawing contest at age 15 he won a scholarship to study art at Huntington Fine Arts after which he went on to earn scholarships to both Boston University where he received a degree in Fine Art in ’99 and to the University of Pennsylvania where he earned his Masters degree in 2001.
In graduate school Emmet began to look at color as a subject in and of itself and studied interiors, light, and how environment can become narrative. He grew enamored of the way color changes in proximity to other colors and performs illusions within the context of representational painting. He meditated on synthetic cubist paintings by Picasso, Op Art by Bridgette Riley, the “Cold Mountain” series by Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, and Robert Ryman as well as classical paintings by Vermeer, Ingres, Estes, and Antonio Lopez Garcia.
In 2002, Emmet taught drawing, painting, and abstract theory at University of Pennsylvania and worked for Pace Wildenstein (now two separate galleries) as an archival photographer through 2005. In 2006 he moved to Boston where he installed and packed artwork for museums for the next three years. In 2013 Emmet moved to Rural Arkansas to focus on in his painting, teaching and family. Emmet currently teaches at UA Cossatot and paints his imaginative bird houses in a studio in his home.
“Often, it is my imagination that inspires me to take new paths in life. When life becomes bleak, my imagination rescues me from the void and plants a seed for new life to grow. These paintings are what I imagined at a time in my life when I needed to be rescued, and now that I thrive again I paint rooms I actually live in as well as rooms I dream of building along with my companions I meet along the way.” – With love, Emmet
He is represented by Candita Clay Gallery of Pawtucket, RI