In Exhibit: Foundation Art Award

Holly Senn's sculpture featured in the 2014 Greater Tacoma Comminty Foundation Art Award exhbiit

Swallow Nests | 2013 | 19x30x14 | Holly A. Senn

Greater Tacoma Community Foundation Art Award & Exhibit

I was one of the nominees for the 2014 Greater Tacoma Community Foundation Art Award, a regional art award designed to recognize the talent and commitment of local artists to the Pierce County community. Painter Elise Richman is the recipient of this year’s award. An exhibit of works made by all the artists recognized will be on display at Tacoma’s Old Post Office, October 1-26. Please join me for the exhibit reception on Tuesday, October 14, 5:30pm-7:30pm.

I will have two sculptures on display, “Swallow Nests” and “Blackbird Nests.”

Reception: Tuesday, October 14, 5:30pm-7:30pm

Exhibit Dates: October 1 to 26
Exhibit Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 12pm-5pm & Saturday 10am-2pm
Location: Old Post Office, 1102 A Street, Suite 103 in downtown Tacoma

Visit my website,, for more images of my work. Below is the backstory on and inspiration for “Swallow Nests” and “Blackbird Nests.”


I am fascinated by how birds collect a variety of materials and bring them together to make nests. In my recent exhibit “Scavenged” I explored how knowledge can be re-purposed; “Swallow Nests” and “Blackbird Nests” were two sculptures that were part of the exhibit.

In the exhibit, I turned text into objects, objects into shelters, and shelters into text by using book pages to create nests. The scavenging and assembling processes of nest building are similar to what I do when I make ephemeral sculptures and installations. I find discarded books, tear out their pages, and then re-fashion them into new structures.


The 1,300 birds’ nests in the University of Puget Sound’s Slater Museum of Natural History collection inspired the sculptures I created for “Scavenged.” I looked through the drawers and drawers of nests at the Slater Museum and saw many possibilities for sculptures. I photographed nests and then sorted through the images to find structures that both inspired me and provided construction opportunities. On the web, I researched nest images and watched videos of birds building nests. I also read nest-related book chapters and articles.

While I used the nests as inspiration for installation, the sculptures were not intended to be exact replicas of nests. Examining the nest specimens and nest building processes, I soon discovered how difficult it was to create a structurally sound form out of materials that echo grasses, reeds, leaves, and sticks. My first attempts came close to replication, but the more I worked, the more I was able to use the nests to inspire more abstract shapes and forms. As I advanced I also experimented with scale in my efforts to interpret, rather than replicate, the specimens.

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