Monthly Archives: July 2010

an urban grizzly in progress

nikki jarecki

nikki jarecki

This is what I’ve been working on for the past few days.  Embroidery on 100% linen.  I’m going to create a patchwork out of the grizzly and the graffiti.  Last night I began thinking about the ways I can use a sewing machine to create graffiti on cloth.  I’m going to explore that this week.  Also, I have to get into the nomadic studio and take care of the 100 European Starlings project.  Hopefully there are a few waiting for me at the gallery.  If all of the email correspondence is any indication, I do! Other than that, it’s off to Milwaukee to help my friends move into their new place.


zine content /100 Starlings

100 European Starlings @ the Nomadic Studio

the story of an invasive species


My name is, Nikki Jarecki and I was born in the wild woods of Northern Wisconsin. My childhood was spent observing, planning, and discussing the natural world.  In 2005, I earned my BFA in Painting from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.  After graduating I moved to Chicago, Illinois to earn my Masters of Art Education at DePaul University. I create embroidered images inspired by the excavation of experience and natural history.  The natural world and the struggle for survival among plants and animals is an endless source of inspiration for my work.

My embroidery work is a solo endeavor. However, recently I have been working with the Stockyard Institute on the Nomadic Studio, which has allowed me to realize this communal project. The creative and pedagogical processes are not single-handed activities, but naturally inclusive events.  I am embracing this occasion by bringing a collective of artists together under one roof to teach and learn from each other about the potential of a singular invasive species, the European Starling. I observe nature in the urban environment the same way I did in my rural environment.  The observations lead to research which made me wonder how others perceive this common creature.

I named the project, 100 European Starlings as that is the number that Eugene Schieffelin collectively released in  North America in the 19th century.  This exhibition would not be possible without the interest and efforts of each individual who participates.  The number of starlings received is not the point as much as the collection of minds coming together with a common purpose. Each person contributes their perspective of a European Starling based on research on the aesthetics, history, geography, and personal experience. I want this exhibition to mean something to more people than me.  It’s about  bringing people together and teaching them something about the natural world.  When people are involved and valued, they have a tendency to care.  I do.  The artists that participate in this project are joining with a common purpose, to create a piece of representational artwork and learn about the importance of the Starling. This project is meant to be a starting point in an effort to merge science, natural history, and visual art. Hopefully, we will learn more about our own flock’s potential and others will take flight to create their own cross curricular classroom projects, lesson plans, field trips, and exhibitions.


They are urban dwellers and live where people live as humanity provides everything they need to live safe and comfortable lives.  They forage lawns, city streets, and agricultural fields for food including:  bugs, berries, grains, seeds, nectar, and organic refuse.  Nesting occurs in tree cavities and man made structures which are preferably up high away from human harm.  The male starling chooses a nest site and uses his real estate to attract a mate.  After his success the couple starts a family.  The female will produce a clutch of 3-6 eggs that incubate in 12 days and both sexes participate in incubation.  Their vocal abilities are varied and impressive.  They have the incredible ability to mimic the songs of other birds and human words.   The birds can often be found hopping around in zig zag patterns aggressively pecking at the ground like maniacs.   Their gregarious nature makes it common to see flocks of 100,000.  The enormous flocks devour crops, monopolize valuable nesting sites and spread disease with their droppings.  They have forever changed the North American landscape and are considered an invasive species.


Source:  THE ANIMAL KINGDOM ARRANGED ACCORDING TO ITS ORGANIZATION Serving as a foundation for the NATURAL HISTORY OF ANIMALS and an Introduction to comparative Anatomy BY Baron Cuvier, Vol. 1. Mammalia-Birds, London, 1834.

“S.vulgaris, L.; Enl. 75; Naum. 62.  (The Common Starling).  Black, with violet and green reflections, every where spotted with white or fawn colour.  The young male is of a brown grey.  It is found in great numbers throughout the whole of the eastern continent, feeds on insects, and is of use to cattle by relieving them from their attacks.  It flies in large and crowded flocks, is easily tamed, and may be taught to sing and even speak.  It leaves France in winter.  Its flesh is disagreeable.  We can find no sufficient character to enable us to distinguish from the Conirostres, with certainty and precisiion, the different genera of the family of the Crows, all of which have a similar internal structure and external organs, only differing in a (generally) greater size, which sometimes enables them to hunt small birds:  their strong bill is most commonly compressed on the sides.  These genera are three in number, the Crows, Birds of Paradise, and the Rollers.”

In 1890 and 1891 a member of the American Acclimation Society, Eugene Schieffelin introduced 100 European Starlings to North America.  Some had been released prior to Schieffelin however, a stable population was not established until his contribution.  Today there are about 200,000,000 European Starlings in North America, ranging from  Alaska to Mexico. In the 19th century it was popular to introduce animals and plants to other lands as they thought it was a positive for both a food source and to control pests.  Today we know otherwise and there is a highly charged effort to eradicate invasive species.  Scientific research has found that there is only one species, the

Below:  range of the European Starling.

Harmful or Beneficial:  a Scientific Perspective

European Starlings and Their Effect on Native Cavity-Nesting Birds


“Thus, despite their aggressiveness and high abundance, and contrary to the fears of many North American ornithologists, European Starlings have yet to unambiguously and significantly threaten any species of North American cavity-nesting bird, with the possible exception of sapsuckers.”  From:  Conservation Biology Volume 17, No. 4, August 2003

Quotes from the biologist, Bud Anderson with the Falcon Research Group.

“We’re looking at 30 pairs of peregrines and in virtually all those nests we see starlings as one of the main prey items.”  He says, “starlings are helping bring back peregrines.”

“Regardless of how we feel about starlings, they are very good at living in the environments we make,” says Wesley Hochachka of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY.  “They like us.”

Invasive Birds to North America:

crested myna, common myna, rosy-faced lovebird, mandarin duck, chukar, egyptian geese, white-fronted parrot, orange-winged amazon, yellow-naped amazon, red-lored parrot, mealy parrot, lilac-crowned parrot, yellow-crowned parrot, yellow-headed parrot, hispaniolan parrot, red-crowned parrot, falcated teal, hottentot teal, mallard, greylang goose, swan goose, blue-and-yellow macaw, chestnut-fronted macaw, blue-crowned parakeet, orange-fronted parakeet, red-masked parakeet, crimson-fronted parakeet, green parakeet, white-eyed parakeet, mitred parakeet, scarlet-fronted parakeet, dusky-headed parakeet, golden crowned crane, yellow-chevroned parakeet, white-winged parakeet, great black hawk, muscovy duck, ringed teal, black-throated magpie-jay, house finch, wooly-necked stork, rock dove, house crow, black swan, trumpeter swan, whooper swan, mute swan, white-faced whistling-duck, orange-cheeked waxbill, scarlet ibis, yellow-crowned bishop, orange bishop, diamond dove, hill myna, spot-breasted oriole, glossy starling, tricolored munia, nutmeg mannikin, budgerigar, monk parakeet, black-hooded parakeet, spotted nothura, helmeted guineafowl, cockatiel, red-winged starling, red-crested cardinal, red-capped cardinal, house sparrow, indian peafowl, common pheasant, yellow grosbeak, lesser flamingo, greater flamingo, purple swamphen, palm cockatoo, rose-ringed parakeet, red-whiskered bulbul, green-cheeked parakeet, yellow-fronted canary, rurasian collared-dove, african collared dove, european turtle dove, european starling, elliot’s pheasant, common shelduck, paradise shelduck, zebra finch, knysna turaco, sacred ibis, pin-tailed whydah, white-winged dove.


Sturnus vulgaris

Three stages of my Sturnus vulgaris embroidery.  I have already began my next piece.  It will be graffiti and a grizzly bear on linen that is sewn to fur.  The research is already in swing as I just finished watching a grizzly bear documentary on the National Geographic Channel.

Also, I’ve been reading this:  

Last night I read how Frank Buck survived a nearly fatal Tapir attack.  Even though I was exhausted I stuck with it and I think this is going to be one of my favorite books.  Thanks for the recommendation Branden!

nomadic studio

The nomadic studio opened yesterday at the DePaul Art Museum.  I had a great time and I’m so happy to be a part of all the action and excitement. I’m looking forward to the upcoming events.

This is the line up.

Rotating Monthly Themes: July-Rumpus Room

August-Bird Sanctuary

September-Back of the Yards

October- Chicago Teaching Artists November- SITE


Rumpus Room

During Rumpus Room, programming focuses on sound recording, music per- formance, music rehearsal, low-cost technology workshops, the home studio, and more. In the central portion of the gallery, we have built a replica of the Rumpus Room, which serves as a fully functioning home recording studio and community lounge on the West Side of Chicago. Traditionally, the atmosphere of the Rumpus Room inspired extreme creativity; in keeping with this legacy, the latest incarnation of Rumpus Room at Nomadic Studio is designed to do the same.

In the past, the Rumpus Room has been used as a rehearsal space, compos- ing studio, performance venue, as well as a printmaking, woodworking, and technology workshop. It has also been a collaborative art project, classroom, gallery, and most importantly, a recording studio that packs away in under two hours, turning the remaining space into a social club. This latest version of the Rumpus Room hopes to engender the same level of conversation, documenta- tion, and collective activity it once inspired.

* We understand that artists tend to work from the home by default as well as necessity; the Rumpus Room should be viewed as a model for what a home studio can be. The recording interface will allow us to not only document all performances and presentations, but also teach recording and serve as com- munal space.

Thu. Fri. Sat.

[7.8] 5pm – House Warming Exhibit doors open to the public. 6pm -Steve Albini – Moving a Home Studio Owner and Recording Engineer Steve designed Electrical Audio and moved his home studio, where he recorded for over 10 years. A Montana native and graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in journalism, Steve has made over 1000 records by over 1000 bands. 7pm – Live Music w/ Bric-a-Brac, onono, Small Awesome Music performances will take place in the Rumpus Room, a fully- functioning ‘home’ recording studio. All three bands consist of musicians that have rehearsed or recorded in the Rumpus Room.

[7.10] 12-5pm – Open Stockyard Studio. Rumpus Room open for recording.

[7.15] 6pm – Protect Your Neck w/ Alex Maiolo and Bob Farster Alex Maiolo has worked with The Future of Music Coalition for almost nine years, primarily focusing on the health insurance crisis as it relates to the working musician. He is a partner at an insurance agency and a musician. Bob Farster has worked as a credit expert and loan officer, helping those without the strongest financial backgrounds to pur- chase homes and business spaces for themselves.

[7.17] 3pm – Faiz Zeppelin open rehearsal session Zeppelin concept band transparent rehearsal 12-5 – Stockyard Open Studio

[7.22] 6pm – Home Recording Panel w/ Greg Norman, Mark Greenberg, and Brian McNally. Greg is an engineer at Electrical Audio and owner of Studio Greg Studios II, a recording studio in his house with fancy equipment and a few rooms for recording stuff. Brian McNally is an electrician, musician and owner of the Rumpus Room, and Mark Greenberg, owner of Mayfair Recordings, a music-for- use company that specializes in music composition, music and sound recording, and sound design.

[7.24] 11am – Solar Powered Theremin Workshop w/ Knox Rivette. Workshop will take place in our satellite space O170, a science lab in DPU. Open to the first 20 people. Knox Daley Revitte is a musician, recording enthusiast, tinkerer, and life artist. Ze has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and is currently pursu- ing hir MS in Human-Computer Interaction at DePaul University.

It’s a wonderful space, please visit it if you are in Chicago.

A link to the July calendar and featured art:

Faiz putting the finishing touches on the RUMPUS ROOM

Jim and Brandon

I put a lot of respect and positive energy into working on this memorial for Eric Utech.  People are encouraged to bring their potted succulents to contribute to the community garden.

Community Garden Canoe – Teacher and artist Eric Utech passed away in 2009 at age 40 to the sadness of his many young students who he inspired through his creative capacity for viewing the world. Eric and his students began building a wooden canoe in his classroom to learn about the Native Americans. It went unfinished. That canoe has been transformed by the Stockyard Institute as a memorial garden to Eric and his students as a provi- sional vessel of living plants offered up by all who choose to contribute. [Nikki Jarecki, Jim Duignan]

Ian Bennet

Finally, my piece in the SITE office.

Nikki Jarecki

Nikki Jarecki

There is more to come in the near future as things are happening at the nomadic studio.

Project: 100 Starlings a call for Artwork at the Nomadic Studio

100 Starlings

The Nomadic Studio is collecting 100 starlings for the Bird Sanctuary which is to be on display during the month of August at the DePaul Art Museum.

I’m working on my contribution.  Please send me your work to the address below.

Happy 4th!

BELOW:  There she is!  Thumbs up pre donning her spanking new Hot Doug’s t shirt after shmearing the Air Show with the works.

ABOVE:  What happened to you on the 3rd of July?????

I spent mine, huddling with other omnivores in the precious shade waiting for encased meats!!!!! After about two hours-seriously, I finally showed my Aunt Dolley the best dog Chicago has to offer at Hot Doug’s.  If you live in or visit this city you have to visit Hot Doug’s and leave your ornery pants at home-patience my dear is truly required.  What else is there to do on hot July day then stand under a tree like a herd of cattle waiting for beef?  Seriously people- this may be your only opportunity to chat with some kindle readers and out of towners with no chance of vegetarianism ruining the party.

My thread drawer is open for business.  Today I cut a piece of linen for my contribution to 100 Starlings.  I better get stitching to be finished by August.