Throughout human history, our attempts to understand a thing often result in its destruction. Natural History museums and text books are full of birds and other animals who have been shot or trapped, studied, and stuffed to produce some macabre lifeless version of their original beauty. John James Audubon shot and experimented on thousands of birds, supposedly out of a monstrous sort of love for them. Some of those birds he killed and painted are extinct, and he observed in his journal that mens’ advance across the continent would extinguish entire habitats and their inhabitants.
Gabriela Domville’s thought-provoking Preserve Collection asks questions about our relationship to nature and about our often-deadly fascination with the mechanics of beauty and of life itself. She presents the birds flat, tied, tagged, and eyeless, as she saw them in a Natural History museum. We are left with a sense of the fragility of a bird’s life, and of all lives. The birds remain beautiful: vibrant and graceful, but we are reminded how much of the beauty of a living thing comes from life itself, from the unique thoughts and actions of every individual creature, the breath in their lungs and the beating of their hearts. It is a thing we will never understand, no matter how we try.
In a visit at the Museum of Natural History, my eyes were captured by two inspiring exhibits in which birds were presented in a non-traditional position: wings flat, legs tied with a string and a tag dangling from them. These birds are specimens of study. Each one of them has invaluable information and is unique on its own. As a nature lover, I wanted to capture their beauty. I started the bird collection with the intent to provoke a sense of urgency with regard to climatic changes, global warming and human interaction with the environment.
“Each bird is an individual letter building the words and sentences that describe the deep history of our planet”
Dealing with a shaking tragedy in my family, as well as my deep appreciation for nature and motherhood, are among the triggers that bring a perspective of the fragility and frugality of life, as well as the importance of conserving resources. These themes pervade every work piece I create, whether it is in paint, paper, fabric, or thread. I often employ elements that represent nature, time, life, and death; a very subtle Memento Mori. It is part of my practice to include discarded materials like teabags, labels, used papers, fabrics, wood, and other objects in my artwork. – Gabriela Domville
Gabriela also offers a collection of scarves inspired by birds’ striking beauty and vibrance. She created the scarves collection to bring awareness of the need for preservation. For each scarf she sell, she contributes part of our revenues to non-profit organizations that pursue that goal.
Gabriela finds her inspiration in every-day elements combined with her memories either from family, nature, studies or techniques. Her artwork is a result of a synergy between the past, preserved by texture, and the eternal present moment. Her creative process is composed of strong first inspiration, analysis, and insight. As the creation emerges from the internalized to the tangible, she selects her materials through touch and feel. She starts with simple drawings, adding layers that make their way through to the final product. Born and raised in Mexico City, Domville was inspired by her Oaxacan grandmother’s passion for self-expression through dress. Determined to pursue a career in fashion and design, she spent years in the textile industry. Following this period the artist studied ceramics, photography and painting. Her technique is also reflective of her years studying in England. Gaby settled in the coastal Southern California city of La Jolla, and currently exhibits across San Diego County and California. See more of her work at Gabrieladomville.com and on Instagram at gabrieladomvilleart.