Extinction is Forever
Extinction is defined by Merriam-Webster as the condition or fact of being extinct or extinguished; no longer existing. There are many species of plants and animals that have become extinct, and many more are expected to become extinct. Gone from our planet.
Even though extinction is a naturally occurring phenomenon, the normal “background rate” for the loss of species is one to five per year. Unfortunately, scientists predict that we are currently losing plants and animals at a rate of one to ten-thousand times the background rate; translating to dozens being lost every day. We could see many as thirty to fifty percent of our species head toward extinction by the middle of this century. This crisis is almost entirely due to the actions of mankind … through the loss of habitat, the introduction of species not normally part of a landscape, environmental pollution, the spread of disease, and climate change.
Todd McGrain: The Lost Bird Project is an exhibition on view in the Cummer Museum of Art & Garden’s J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Community Sculpture Garden & Plaza through October 21, 2018. The exhibition features five large-scale sculptures and is supplemented by the presentation of preparatory drawings in the Bank of America Concourse Gallery, inside the museum. As a chronicle of humankind’s impact on our changing world — excessive hunting and fishing, commerce, deforestation — and a record of dwindling biodiversity (the variety of life), The Lost Bird Project memorializes North American birds that have been driven to
extinction. The great auk, Labrador duck, passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, and heath hen were birds that once filled unique niches in the North American landscape, from the shores of Labrador and New York to the Midwestern plains. Moved by their stories, American artist Todd McGrain (b. 1961) set out to bring their vanished forms back into the world. More importantly, these sculptures ask us not to forget, and remind us of our duty to save fragile habitats and prevent further extinction.
“Todd McGrain’s sculptures not only look majestic and beautiful,” says Cummer Museum Associate Curator Nelda Damiano, “they also prompt us to think about the role we play in protecting and preserving the world we live in.”
The species on earth don’t live in a vacuum, and it is not known how the loss of one species will affect the other species within its ecosystem, but it is known that the removal of just one species from an ecosystem can set off a chain reaction among all the remaining plants and animals. This, in turn, negatively affects the natural processes or the species composition of the ecosystem. But why should we care? What do all these species mean to humans, anyway?
By Dawn Zattau