Jane Rosen hears things few people do, even her fellow sculptors. “I have synesthesia—I can actually hear the forms my sculptures will take the moment I start on them,” says Rosen from her northern California studio, a place she claims is so remote that “it takes a twenty-minute drive just to get a quart of milk.”
Amid that solitude, which she admits to finding both comforting and, at times, alienating, she hears the cries of birds of prey about her—owls, marsh hawks, eagles, osprey, red-tail hawks, merlins, falcons—as well as foxes and other creatures. Sometimes, the birds actually fly into her home, but even if they don’t establish that kind of direct contact with her, Rosen translates their presence into works made of stone or blown glass or marble, forms for which she is renowned.
“Those birds I see and hear are in my heart, and the moment I hear a hawk, especially a cooper’s hawk, I can see its form in the sensations I feel.” Although she works with a small staff of young helpers, who are better able to hoist the heavy materials and plinths with which she works, perhaps her most intimate and inspiring companions are the birds. “If you watch the way a red-tail hawk poses, its presence is other worldly. They have a silence about them and an intelligence that I have been unable to shake all these years. Every time I see one, it catches me. I am haunted by birds of prey.”
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY LAURIE FRANKEL
WRITTEN BY DAVID MASELLO
This story appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of MILIEU.