WILMINGTON, MA — “Birds of a Feather,” an art show celebrating the unique partnership between John Warner, founder of the field of green chemistry, and Pete Myers, a leading researcher in the field of environmental health and endocrine disruption (and founder and chief scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, publisher of EnvironmentalHealthNews.org and DailyClimate.org) has launched.
“Birds of a Feather” opened Thursday, May 28 and runs through the summer at the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry in Wilmington. The exhibit is open to the public, but since it is in a research facility, visitors are asked to call or email ahead of time to set up an appointment: 978-229-5400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The two have worked for a decade to bring the two fields closer together, with the goal of providing society with a safer chemistry free of materials that interfere with the body’s hormone system.
Myers is also a life-long birder, inspired in boyhood by his mother, Margaret Peterson Myers, and by legendary ornithologist Chan Robbins in the early 1960s. For more than 40 years Myers has photographed birds around the world, from Dubai to the Norwegian Arctic to his backyard in Virginia.
The show, at the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, features 42 photos of birds in their natural states.
“I get up close and personal with birds to record with my camera things a casual viewer will never witness,” Myers says on the show’s website. “The crispness of plumage, the magic of a feather, extraordinary light drawing out colors, an intimate ballet as two birds interact unaware of my intrusion.”
“I want these images to astound you, the viewer, so that the next chance you have you take a much closer and more careful look at the wonder of natural selection to which you are a witness.”
‘About what people do’
Myers earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, with research on migratory shorebirds in Alaska, California and Argentina. In the 1980s, he began to transition to studies of how chemicals affect the health of people and wildlife, and since 1990 he has immersed himself in the study of how endocrine disrupting chemicals such as bisphenol-A and Roundup interfere with our hormones and are tied to a wide range of human diseases.
In 1996 he co-authored Our Stolen Future with the late Theo Colborn, one of the foremost researchers in the field, and Boston-based writer Dianne Dumanoski. He founded Environmental Health Sciences in 2002.
The link between birds and environmental health is well documented, starting with Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” in 1962. Last year Environmental Health News published a 16-part series, Winged Warnings, tracing the story birds are telling us about our world.
“Bird conservation isn’t about birds,” Myers wrote in an introduction to the work. “It’s about what people do. Human actions were putting birds in peril, and if you want to do something about that, you needed to learn about how to alter human behavior.”
But “Birds of a Feather” doesn’t dwell on such things. It focuses on birds doing what birds do: A cedar waxwing hanging upside down to get to a berry. A great crested grebe racing across the water, its wake unfurling furiously behind. Three small sanderlings asleep on California’s windswept Point Reyes, sand whirling about
“For almost a decade I set aside birds and photography almost completely,” Myers said. “The need to escape all the bad news of my day job drew me back to birds and photography, and the new powers of digital photography made so much more possible.”