We had the good fortune of connecting with Stacie Birky Greene and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stacie, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Being an artist and a teaching artist my schedule is in a constant state of flux. There are times when I’m very busy teaching and I’m so spent at the end of the day that I barely get into the studio. This can last months. During this time I also don’t spend as much time with my husband as I’d like and house chores get ignored. I used to get stressed about that, however years ago my friend and fellow artist Lauren Carrera said something to me one day about thinking of your time in terms of semesters. So, for now I’m doing X, later I will focus on Y. That mindset helps me a lot. Also, I am fortunate to be married to the composer, Adam Greene who is not only very supportive of me, but as a fellow artist understands the demands.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Over the past decade my work has focused on birds that are endangered or have gone extinct since 1970 (around the passing of the Endangered Species Act). I’ve taken on this project in hopes of drawing attention to their plight and the connection we all have in what is happening to our planet. I’m working on four series relating to that theme. The endangered and some of the critically endangered birds I’m drawing on paper made out of my junk mail. This series I think of as hopeful in that we still have a chance to save these creatures. The extinct and the critically endangered birds with 100 or less individuals I draw on small wooden rectangles that are then tiled to form a mosaic – a fragmented image representing a lost species. I think of this series as the past and present as these birds have either already disappeared or are in the process of disappearing. The specimen drawer series uses reclaimed wooden drawers, junk mail, and other mixed media to produce a dark future when the species represented will no longer exist in the world. All that will remain are their skins, preserved nests, and eggs. With the oil paintings of endangered and critically endangered birds I have incorporated elements from their habitats as well as sonograms of their calls. Getting too where I am today and where I hope to be in the future has been and continues to be a struggle. As an artist in general it is hard getting your work out into the world, and it comes with a lot of rejection. Being a female artist makes it even more of a struggle. So, being a part of a group of strong women artists, such as the Women’s Caucus for the Arts (in the 1990’s) and currently in FIG (Feminine Image Group) has opened many doors for me and is a continual source of support and shared opportunity. I am proud of the solo and group shows that I have been in over the past few years. I am partially proud of being included in the “Endangered: Exploring California’s Changing Ecosystems,” at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, CA, curated by Danielle Deery, that closed in January 2020. Exhibiting alongside some amazing and accomplished artists was an honor. Beyond that I am excited that so many people visited the show and really took in the work and the stories we are telling. Similarly I am proud of the 2019 FIG exhibition “That’s What She Said…Artist Speak Out,” at Martha Pace Swift Gallery that I curated with Wes Chester.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I have a friend visiting San Diego here are the places I’d take them (pre pandemic). First we’d visit Chicano Park in Barrio Logan. While in Barrio Logan, go on a taco crawl first to Boarder X Brewing and try the Horchata Golden Stout and get a taco El Pastor, then get some tacos at !Salud!, lastly go to Mariscos El Pulpo. Go hiking in Torrey Pines then walk along the shore or go for a swim. Visit Balboa Park go to the San Diego Art Museum, Museum of Photographic Arts, and check out the gardens. While in the Hillcrest area go to Micho’z Fresh Lebanese Grill and/or go to Kous Kous for diner. In North Park visit Art Produce, get bagels and doughnuts at Nomad Doughnuts, try some beers at North Park Brewing and Hess Brewing. Diner and or Lunch at Dunedin New Zealand Eats or get Raman from Under Belly. Blind Lady Ale House is also a must. If they want pizza Pizzeria Bruno Napoletano, in Hillcrest or Buona Forchetta in South Park.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have several people who have been supportive and while I’ve never had a true mentor there are people from whom I’ve learned a great deal. These include, Lauren Carrera, The members of FIG (Feminist Image Group), Wes Chester, and Helen Redman to name a few.
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All images by Stacie Birky Greene