By Morrigan DeVito
Art is an integral part of bird conservation, a way for people to express themselves and inspire others to connect to nature and take action. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing local artist Myranda Bair, who was the 2022 artist-in-residence at Clark County Wetlands Park. Her pieces, from community murals to gallery work, reflect a naturalist’s sensitivity to the wonders of nature in Southern NV. Read on to discover more about Myranda’s art and her relationship to the birds of Las Vegas.
Q: What are your preferred mediums to work with?
A: I love painting and drawing. Water-based mediums are my specialty but I try to never let a single medium define what I’m capable of. I’ve created works in almost every medium. In fact, some of my best known works are site-specific installations and sculptures. I’ve created public art projects around the country, including works for Vanderbilt University, BYU, the City of Las Vegas, Clark County, and various national and local conservation areas.
Q: How does the Mojave Desert inspire your work?
A: The first time I saw the Mojave Desert was in 1990. I was 8 years old and my family was driving from Los Angeles to Houston. I remember the vast spread of desert between Barstow and Phoenix. Everything sparkled in the light, a sea of sand. I was young, but you know magic when it hits you.
Q: When did you first move to Las Vegas? What were the first birds you noticed here?
A: I first moved to Las Vegas in 2012. I LOVE it. I’m a believer in totem animals. Shamans say each person has a totem of around 8-9 creatures that help guide them through life, though any animal can appear as a guide when needed. When I moved to Las Vegas, I noticed great horned owls… Everywhere. They seemed to be looking for me, instead of the standard birding practice where you have to sit quietly for hours in hopes of spotting one of them. Ha! I took this as an obvious sign, and became more mindful of what they wanted from me, and how I could better serve them, the environment, and myself in the process.
Q: As an artist-in-residence at Clark County Wetlands Park in 2022, what inspired you most in the landscape there?
A: When I participated in the 2022 CCWP artist-in-residence, I became fascinated with the music of the park. It has a wonderful symphony of sounds: the grasses blowing in the breeze, birds talking, insects buzzing, frogs croaking. It was nice to just listen. The sounds change so much depending on the hour of day or time of year. That was something I didn’t expect to discover from the residency. Now, of course, it seems so obvious. Art is dimensional and goes beyond the visual. It has auditory, physical, visual, olfactory, and metaphysical properties.
Q: What are some of the work and programs you’ve done for Clark County Wetlands Park?
A: I’ve continued to contribute and support the CCWP through the creation of personalized postcards featuring creatures I encountered during my residency. They are for sale at the park gift shop and the purchase of them directly benefits the park. I also recently loaned artwork to the park for 8 weeks which was displayed in promotion of the park’s art programs and also artist-in-residency program.
Q: Why do you choose to support RRAS by contributing your art to the chapter?
A: I think of myself as a community artist. I want to give back to the community and support society. Saving birds saves the planet. As our planet heats up, and more wild places lose habitat to housing and development, we must fight harder to support wild places, creatures, and plants. A world without wildlife is not a world, so that’s why I want to help. When people learn about creatures and plants, they connect with creatures and plants. This creates an association of that creature/plant/place's value in and to the world. It also helps people find pleasure in seeing a specific bird, hearing their call, or seeing nests and eggs. It creates joy. Giving back is part of my artistic practice, it’s the most important part I feel. I hope my art will help to educate and inspire the public about wildlife and plants.
Today, Myranda is supporting RRAS by creating visual content such as illustrating articles and children’s coloring book pages to use in our upcoming summer youth programs at Clark County Wetlands Park. To view more of Myranda’s art, you can visit her website and also stay tuned to the RRAS newsletter for more of our bird conservation articles featuring her work.