David Tomb: Grand Birds of the Philippines

Posted on November 11, 2012

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Mt. Kitanglad, a Philippine national park not far from my hometown of Cagayan de Oro, is known for its ecological diversity. It is home to an estimated 198 bird species, including the Philippine eagle. Sadly, despite Kitanglad’s status as a protected park, its bird population suffers from illegal logging and unscrupulous poachers. Philippine eagles are particularly at risk for poaching,  as they have a desirable flavor and provide a substantial amount of meat. On Mt. Kitanglad, a local man was recently fined for shooting an eagle and using it to make tinola, a green papaya soup. Meanwhile, scientists estimate that there are only between 180-500 Philippine eagles surviving in the wild.

Enter the artist and birding enthusiast David Tomb, who recently put on an exhibit at San Francisco’s Public Works focusing on the grand birds of the southern Philippines. Through his organization, Jeepney Projects, he uses art to raise awareness about endangered birds and works together with local conservation agencies to preserve these birds. He donates a substantial percentage of the sales on his artwork (100% on digital prints, 30% on other types of prints) to conservation projects in both the Philippines and Mexico.

In this exhibit, David created three-dimensional collages by carefully assembling cut-out layers of painted figures (birds, branches, vines, flowers). The birds stood out, brilliant and iridescent against muted matte backgrounds. I particularly liked the rufous hornbill, which had a noble look to it, although I felt ambivalent about David’s largest artwork, a 12-foot-high life-size painting of a Philippine eagle nest site. (Philippine eagles may be tragic figures, but their peculiar, uneven headdress makes them look a little…silly.)

You can view more images of David’s paintings at Electric Works or shop for prints at Jeepney Projects Worldwide.

Rufous Hornbill (image courtesy of Electric Works).

Philippine Trogon (image courtesy of Electric Works).

Philippine Eagle (image courtesy of Electric Works).

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