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Fragmented Narratives

by Josie Morway

Josie Morway is a designer and painter working in Providence, Rhode Island. She taught herself to paint and turned to birds as subjects five years ago, inspired by her father's expert wildfowl carvings. Her artwork plays on scale and perception by transforming small natural details and transitory moments into very large installations. Check out her work and resume at

"This painting was the first in a series with the same title, in which I used birds to explore ideas of wildness and domestication in both the man-made and natural worlds, and the puzzle of how we are driven to settle or to roam depending on our perceived needs. It features a south American hummingbird, which I painted from several photo references. I've always been drawn to hummingbirds due to their amazing agility and fortitude in proportion to their delicate size, and I was especially interested in working on a very large scale (about 6 feet tall) with such a tiny subject.

The hummingbird became the main character in this particular painting after I learned that the species does not form any mate bonds; instead migrating and mating in a "lifestyle" that would be considered non-traditional by conventional standards in human society."

Untame Vs. The Domesticat- - Josie Morway

Untame Vs. The Domesticati, Oil on wood, 6' x 4'

"This painting of a cedar waxwing was made from several reference photos, taken near my childhood home on Cape Cod. Still using my paintings to explore ideas of settling and roaming, I became interested in the cedar waxwing after reading about how clearly its migratory pattern is driven by its dependence on its fruit-based diet.

After learning about how the waxwing's very plumage color (the bright tips of the tail feathers) can be affected by eating a certain kind of berry, I began thinking about "decoration" and its different formal and functional manifestations. I decided to incorporate a background pattern drawn from vintage wallpaper; color and pattern from our domestic world that combines and contrasts with the color and pattern of nature both in appearance and purpose."

Rhymes with How and Comes Before Then - Josie Morway

Rhymes with How and Comes Before Then, Oil on wood 4'x4'

This close up of a female kestrel seems, to me, to be a portrait of determination, clarity and assertiveness. I'm always fascinated by how eloquently birds' gestures, postures and expressions seem to mirror our human body language, making the birds wonderful allegorical figures for mysteriously narrative paintings.

Getting On With The Get-Up-And-Go - Josie Morway

Getting On With The Get-Up-And-Go, Oil on Wood 48" x 48"