• 09.24.13

The Most Lifelike Counterfeit Birds You Will Ever See

You’ll believe paper can fly.

At first glance, Diana Beltran Herrera seems to be the owner of a vast aviary. The photographs on her website include a plethora of bird species, from common starlings to Red-breasted Sapsuckers, to flamingos, to massive, colorful cranes. But the Columbian-born artist has built her birds from scratch, almost entirely from paper. To fashion the lifelike flock, Herrera studies birds in the wild, peruses photographs, and consults ornithologists to ensure that each sculpture is true to life. She then builds them at scale, individually cutting each feather from sheets of art paper and pasting them, one-by-one, to a base. The larger birds, like the crane, can take up to two weeks to construct. She has posed many of the sculptures in mid-flight. And some of the birds appear to be swooping toward their prey. Herrera’s work is currently on display at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum in Winter Park, Florida. When you visit, listen closely; you might just hear birdsong.


[Photos by Victoria Holguin, Commission for Santafé Medelin, Works by Diana Beltran Herrera]

About the author

Jennifer Miller is the author of The Year of the Gadfly (Harcourt, 2012) and Inheriting The Holy Land (Ballantine, 2005). She's a regular contributor to Co.Create.