Chicken or the Egg?
Photography Nicole Wolf
“I was creatively stuck at the time and having difficulty making radical changes in the direction of my work so I came up with this idea of making the chicken the excuse for the next sculpture. Of course, the title and the work evoke the expression, What came first, the chicken or the egg? I conceptualized two classic bell-jar-shaped birdcages suspended from the classic C-shaped Victorian birdcage stand. One cage would be filled with feathers and the other with eggshells because those are the parts of the chicken and the egg that endure over time. I designed the cages first and then went to the jewelry department on campus to ask if I could use their equipment to silver solder all the joints. The white feathers were more difficult to find because they had to be large enough not to fall out of the cage but not so large that they would not be believable as chicken feathers. I traveled all the way to New York City’s textile district to buy them. I went to the fourth floor of a warehouse, rang the doorbell, and someone came and admitted me into what was a vast warehouse room filled with every imaginable color and size of feather. It was really shocking. All I wanted was two pounds of three-inch white chicken feathers. I had brought a pillowcase for the purpose.”
—Sculptor Celeste Roberge on creating her work The Chicken Is an Excuse, in 1985 during in her first year of graduate study at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.