Reproduced by permission of Lise Stampfli Torme and Kalina Machlis of Dominican University
San Marco goes to the birds
By Kalina Machlis
Dominican University’s, The Habit
Printed in the October, 2011 issue
Artist David Tomb’s exhibit on the Philippine eagle is being featured through Oct. 29 at the San Marco Gallery in Alemany Library. “Our job is to help tell the world about the eagle,” Tomb says. “How great it is, how cool it is, how beautiful it is, but also, unfortunately, how rare it is. Now is the time to act to help save the eagle.”
Tomb’s exhibit is more than visually satisfying; it brings attention to the important cause of assisting critically endangered birds. It showcases pieces resulting from a recent trip Tomb and friends took to the Philippines. Limited edition prints of the eagles are available for sale and all proceeds support organizations devoted to preserving the eagle’s habitat.
The Philippine eagle is Tomb’s latest focus because it is both a poignantly beautiful creature and in danger of extinction. According to a study done by Birdlife International, there are roughly 82 to 233 mating pairs left. Hunting, combined, with environmental threats, has greatly diminished the Philippine eagle population. Tomb’s fascination with the eagle began at a young age.
“When I was a kid I had this book…and there was an image of the Philippine eagle, but at that time…the bird was called the Philippine monkeyeating eagle and I thought with a name like that it’s gotta be great. Then, there was an article in National Geographic about three or four years ago about the eagle, and when I saw that, it reignited an interest in me about that particular bird. And then, on top of that, [it’s] the bird that bird watchers want to see most.”
Tomb, with Peter Barto and Howard Flax, founded Jeepney Projects Worldwide in 2010, a nonprofit organization raising money and awareness about birds. They have accomplished the difficult task of combining art and conservation issues. The project was created when Barto, a friend of Tomb’s since 7th grade, asked Tomb if he was interested in going to the Philippines to look for the eagle. Tomb was so interested that he also wanted to do an art project that could help raise money. Barto suggested that Tomb start an organization to help him accomplish that. Two days later, Jeepney Projects Worldwide was hatched.
The JPW website states that “with each project focusing on and advocating for a particular species, JPW hopes to instill a passion in both the local population as well as people around the world to learn more about these unique animals, and find ways to help reverse course on their impending demise.”
JPW has joined forces with the Philippine Eagle Foundation to raise money for research, in addition to raising local and global awareness, breeding of the eagle, and assisting the Philippine people in their community.
As far as what Dominican students, faculty, and community members can do to contribute, Tomb had some suggestions: “There are lots of ways to help. The prints will always be available until they sell out, which would be fantastic. I, of course, hope that it snowballs like crazy.”
Tomb urges the Dominican community to like Jeepney Projects Worldwide on Facebook and to get involved in helping the eagle. Tomb’s next show will be at The Bone Room in Berkeley beginning Feb. 2, 2012, followed by a show in June at Electric Works in San Francisco.