The Bird Cage was a multimedia installation featuring 21 portraits of modern day women, a video of interviews, and about 800 feet of recreated hand made wallpaper.

The title of the show and the wallpaper pattern is from the infamous Bird Cage Theater in Tombstone Arizona. Tombstone was a boom town due to the discovery of silver in 1877 before Arizona was a State. It was often a very tough place to survive and yet was also one of the richest towns in the west during its time. The Bird Cage Theater was only in operation from 1881 to 1889, but during that time it developed a reputation for debauchery, violence, and prostitution.

The Bird Cage Theater gained its name from the fourteen cribs on the balcony level of theater where legal prostitution took place. Few women actually chose a life of prostitution, although there were some that did for adventure, its lucrative nature, or as an escape from the potentially dull life of a housewife. More often though, when women would lose the men in their family they would have little other option than prostitution or suicide, and many women chose the latter.

The artists don’t intend this to be a show about prostitution or elude in anyway that the modern day women in these portraits are prostitutes. The intention is to examine women’s place in history, using The Bird Cage Theater as a focal point.

The Bird Cage was inspired by a different “notorious” place, Storyville in the city of New Orleans. The portrait style was further influenced by the photos of Ernest Bellocq. The women in the portraits are the artist’s friends and fellow female artists that agreed to sit for a “Wild West” persona portrait and share their story about how they came to Arizona and their roll in modern times. In preparation for the portraits the women were also encouraged to bring items to be included as props that related to them as individuals as well as females.

The Bird Cage exhibited at the A. E. England gallery from March 5th – April 16th 2010.