Printmaker, professor and collage artist weaves new life from bird's nests

Kate Rivers receives old bird's nests in the mail on occasion. Sometimes, people walk up to her at one of her art shows and hand her one. These situations thrill her, because she uses the tiny woven homes to create works of art "? each with a theme, each representing a memory.

Rivers' unique art method started after she noticed nests continuously popping up at various points of her life. In high school, she had a balcony outside her room, and one day, she noticed several of her shiny trinkets were missing and spotted a nest atop a nearby tree. Ten years ago, a hummingbird built a home above her front door and laid an egg. Just as Rivers was about to move away, the egg hatched. She took the nest with her.

"It was real symbolic to me of home," she said. "I think more importantly, it just has to do with memory."

Rivers, who works as an assistant professor of art at East Central University in Ada, has also collected tiny scraps and fragments of various materials for years. She's saved anything and everything, as long as the pieces represented travel or commodity. She said airline tickets, maps and letters all represent human movement, while clothing labels, barcodes and dry cleaning receipts remind her about the commodities of daily life.

"I use materials that would be discarded, things that we would normally take for granted," she said.

Rivers uses the nests with the collected fragments to create intricate, abstract collages that represent monumental memories and moments. She even created an entire portrait of a national park after holding onto a map she snagged when she was 17.

"Each particular nest has a very specific story, narrative, and you have to read the fragments to put it together," Rivers said.

She and about 50 other artists have joined for this weekend's Monothon Print Session at [ArtSpace] at Untitled. Rivers is a master printer and is assisting other artists and creating her own art to raise money for the gallery. The art class is not open to the public, but the prints created at the workshop will be displayed on the gallery's Web site after the event wraps.

Her current exhibit alongside paintings by Barbara Robinette Moss is on display at City Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing. Moss, a Kansas artist, author and poet, died of cancer on Oct. 9. Rivers will close the exhibit 2 p.m. Sunday with an artist talk and reception.

Works by Kate Rivers and Barbara Robinette Moss hosts a closing reception at 2 p.m. Sunday at City Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing.

"?Paige Lawler