Rex Brasher’s Birds and Trees of North America is currently on display on the main level of the Burritt Library.
Rex Brasher was an American artist who produced a set of books entitled The Birds and Trees of North America in the 1930’s. Brasher was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1869, and by the age of 16 he started painting birds in their natural surroundings. He traveled to every corner of the North American continent and by 1924, after painting thousands of birds, considered his task done.
Mr. Brasher purchased a farm in Kent, Connecticut in 1911, where he continued to work. When his eyesight failed him, two years before his death in 1960, he stopped painting. Brasher’s work contains 875 painted prints of over 1200 species and subspecies of North American birds. Brasher could not afford to print his work in color, therefore he ordered black and white prints and then, using an airbrush and a stencil, hand colored each plate.
There were 100 sets of 12 volumes of The Birds and Trees of North America produced, including almost 90,000 hand colored reproductions. Burritt library currently exhibits volume 1 out of 12 volumes which are housed at the Special Collections department.
I returned recently from a trip to the great city of New Orleans. The main objective of the trip was to help rebuild houses in the Lower Ninth Ward, an area that was ravaged by floods in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.This area was particularly hard hit, and many residents had water up to their rooftops. Two and a half years later most of the area is still in need of repair and since only 10% of the population has returned, much of the area feels like a ghost town.
We (my husband and I) were able to volunteer with an organization called lowernine.org, which is a non-profit group that assists with placing volunteers in area homes that need repair, along with offering assistance to the homeowners of the area.The amazing people of this organization also provide a place to sleep and food to eat to their many volunteers. In addition they teach volunteers the skills they need to drywall or frame buildings or whatever may arise. I was able to learn how to tile floors and backsplashes while I was there.
The best part of the whole experience was getting to meet the homeowners.One morning I was dropped off at one of the houses, and was immediately greeted with a giant hug and thank you by a lovely woman whose home was near completion. On another occasion, I witnessed an owner start to well up with tears as the realization that he and his family would soon be able to move back into their home dawned on him. On the whole it was a fantastic experience, and I am hoping to go back for some more renovation projects in October.
You can find out more at www.lowernine.org
If you would like to see the photos let me know!