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About Bird Closet

Bird Closet is an art collective based in the rural village of Bethel in Appalachian Ohio. Formed in the spring of 2018, Bird Closet developed organically from the relationships established as part of SOIL SERIES: A Social Drawing, a two-year process of serial socially engaged research facilitated by artists Francesca Fiore and Hillary Wagner in collaboration with members of the Bethel community. Supportive, inclusive, and democratically governed, Bird Closet has been created and cultivated by more than 23 participants ranging in age from 16 to 38. Participants inhabit self-selected bird alter egos and don bird masks of their own creation as a means of evoking an alternate universe in which the birds are free to pursue creative and social projects that may seem untenable in the world as it exists. Far from escapist, the works of Bird Closet seek to imagine new possible futures for the village of Bethel and inspire similar explorations by other residents of the area and beyond.

At the core of Bird Closet’s work are collages, which reconfigure language and imagery extracted from publicly available historical documents and other relevant literature as a way of voicing a collective desire for new forms of community, new modes of social imagination, and new images of Bethel. Select collages are published in Bird Closet’s zine, Fraxinus, issues of which are covertly disseminated in the village. Bird Closet’s public interventions also included a series of three collagic billboards in the summer of 2018, which playfully announced the collective’s presence and greeted drivers entering the village with poetic and ephemeral provocations. The billboards, collages, bird masks, and issues of Fraxinus all subsequently became the subject of Bird Closet’s self-titled exhibition at Mount Vernon Nazarene University's Schnormeier Gallery in Mount Vernon, OH, in September of 2018. 

Francesca and Hillary presented on Bird Closet’s work at Project Anywhere’s biennial conference, Anywhere & Elsewhere (2018), and the collective produced a text for the conference publication, Anywhere iii


Bird Closet participants, past and present:

Barn Swallow / Blue Heron / Blue Jay / Calliope Hummingbird / Cardinal / Chickadee / Coal Tit / Common Starling / Crow / Duck / Goldfinch / Great Horned Owl / House Sparrow / Indigo Bunting / Nighthawk / Parula Warbler / Pileated Woodpecker / Plover / Raven / Rufous Hummingbird / Tufted Titmouse / Typical Owl / Red-Winged Blackbird


Hear us talk about our work with Kanyinsola Anifowoshe & Mikki Janower in "A Community is a Garden"  for Sustainable Futures, Guggenheim Summer Practicum (2020) and check out the accompanying workbook: 

A Community is a Garden: Tools for Artists, Communities, and Institutions



Bird Closet. “Three Conversations.” Anywhere iii, 2019.

Read or download here (p. 100)


Francesca Fiore and Hillary Wagner of Bird Closet present at

Anywhere & Elsewhere Biennial Conference

(watch the video here starting at 15:55)

November 15th - 16th, 2018

Parsons School of Design, New York, NY


Bird Closet

Schnormeier Gallery at Mount Vernon Nazarene University

Mount Vernon, OH

August 27th - September 28th, 2018

Gallery Talk: September 7th 5 - 6pm / Reception: September 7th, 6 - 9pm

(video coming soon)

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