This ArtWorks mural designed by John A. Ruthven commemorates the life of Martha, the last passenger pigeon, a once-numerous bird species that is now extinct. It covers a large wall on Vine St. between 7th and 8th Sts. in downtown Cincinnati.
The lifelike, detailed work of artist John A. Ruthven has been compared to Audubon, and project manager Tim Parsley and his team of teen apprentices did a great job of reproducing Ruthven’s original image at this large scale without losing Ruthven’s fine detail and shading.
Here’s Martha leading her flock over the historic Bird Run at the Cincinnati Zoo:
Martha, named after George Washington’s wife, passed away in 1914 and was donated to the National Museum of Natural History. Her species was driven to extinction in merely 40 years, its population having been in the several billions in the mid-19th century.
This time-lapse from the summer of 2013 shows the mural’s progress:
Martha has become a symbol of extinction and, on the 100-year anniversary of her death, Project Passenger Pigeon commemorates her life with the aim of promoting biodiversity and preventing human-caused extinctions.
John A. Ruthven has been an artist and naturalist for 70 years. Born in Cincinnati in 1927 and now living in nearby Georgetown, OH, he is devoted to preserving wildlife through art.