Robins! by Patricia Innis


The state bird of Michigan since 1931, the American robin has been the harbinger of spring for many generations of people living in the state. The American robin is one of the few native American species to have benefited from human development. In Michigan, each new farm that emerged where forests once stood and each town with suburban neighborhoods, parks, gardens and orchards provided new habitat and breeding grounds for the birds. By the 1930s the American robin had become Michigan’s most widespread songbird. Part of popular culture with songs such as “Rockin’ Robin” and “When the “Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along,” robins are often the first birds children can identify.

Robins! is an environmental art installation at Michigan Legacy Art Park that draws attention to bird migration and the impact the American robin has had on our culture. The installation consists of three earth-mound sculptures featuring robins and a bird’s nest containing three eggs. Formed to scale, the robins have a 14-foot wingspan, are nine feet in length and two feet in height. The mounds capture the birds in various stages of flight as they head slightly uphill toward the nest. Each are planted with shady grass seed, creating a habitat for live robins.

About the Artist:

Patricia Innis is an environmental artist and painter who has exhibited her paintings and participated in environmental art projects throughout the Midwest. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Bowling Green State University and Master of Fine Arts degree from Maharishi International University. Her work is included in the public collections of Bowling Green State University, Northwestern University and the Central Iowa Airport. She has also provided illustrations in Embroidered Horizons, a poetry anthology, and in The History of the Pioneer Picnic. Ms. Innis' work reflects the spirit of times past and the study of their transformations, with projects that integrate art and nature. Currently the Director of Education at Michigan Legacy Art Park, Innis has established collaborative relationships with schools throughout northwest lower Michigan, leading workshops and weeklong residencies in schools. A committed educator and university professor, Innis works closely with students from area schools while installing her art, including “Serpent Mound,” a 120-foot long earthen sculpture installed at Michigan Legacy Art Park in 2002. For that project, Innis worked with students from three school systems to create ceramic animals to bury in the mound, with each animal carrying a wish for the world.