Mike Morgan
Two lesbian monk parrots taught me about grief.

Jodi is a green monk parrot who came to live at a wildlife sanctuary after being abandoned by a string of owners. Monk parrots mate for life and the separation caused her to become vicious and to pluck almost all of her feathers out. It wasn’t until a wild blue monk parrot was rescued for a broken wing and paired in Jodi’s sanctuary that the two bonded. Jodi became happy. Her feathers grew back. Perhaps the two fell in love.

Witnessing this miraculous growth of character and shift in personality awed me. My dad died of cancer just a month earlier. I could sympathize with the hurt Jodi felt over loss, and I was happy to witness Jodi—who would snap her beak at anyone—find a space healing from her new cage mate. Jodi’s new mate was not only rare for her blue color, but also for surviving a cat attack—4 out of 5 birds attacked by cats perish even if they manage to escape. The feel-good story and the surrounding coincidences resonated with  me during a time when I needed to feel good and to be intrigued. My earliest collages and paintings are homages to the story of Jodi and the Blue Monk. This work was hopeful— life adapts and survives in ever-changing environments.

Overtime, my attention shifted from Jodi and the Blue Monk to the world the Blue Monk had come from—a world comprised of escaped pets, thousands of miles from their indigenous habitats and building homes on top of suburban Long Island landscapes. These highly intellectual and social creatures now serve as allegories for the human experience: loss, redemption and feeling alien within your own community.

My work, like the Jodi-Blue Monk romance, balances humor and melancholy. Is the humorous expression captured in the iPhone snapshot of the missing dog a message to find light in any situation? Is the missing poster a naïve and desperate attempt to return to something long lost? Did the dog, now missing, scare the cat away from the parrots?