Binational ‘Birds’ Installation Flocks to San Diego

Created: 27 December, 2018
Last update: 20 April, 2022

By Mario A. Cortez

“Birds Without Paradise” during its display in Tijuana

While many birds fly to the tropics for the winter months, the 350 handcrafted birds comprising the “Birds Without Paradise” display will spread their wings over Liberty Station as part of a cross-border art project.

The installation, developed by Mexican artist Manuel Molina, is part of a binational effort lead by Mexico-based developer Vesta, The San Diego Unified School District, the NTC Foundation, and the Smart Border Coalition to “promote cooperation in the CaliBaja Mega-region,” as described in a press release.

“Smart Border Coalition is proud to support this creative and symbolic art project to unite our cross-border community,” said Smart Border Coalition executive director Gustavo De La Fuente, adding that the concept of freedom, represented through “Birds Without Paradise,” is what allows for a free exchange of knowledge and creativity, which leads to prosperity.

The birds were made by students from seven San Diego Unified District campuses using materials endemic to the Americas, such as corn husks, and were painted in many colors. The birds will be suspended over Luce Court in the Liberty Station Arts District.

“This project was not only really fun for me and my students, but it offered my students a chance to share their creativity and contribute to an art installation that is bigger than themselves,” said Suzanne Long, a teacher at Correia Middle School. “Having the opportunity to collaborate with Manuel Molina helped make this project relevant and meaningful for all students who participated.”

This is the second time Molina puts on such a display in a public space, with the first “Birds Without Paradise” hanging over Second Avenue in downtown Tijuana in an effort to raise awareness of exotic bird species trafficking.

The installation adds to Liberty Station’s track record of displaying cross-border art. Recent exhibitions and artistic displays include works by Tijuana-based creative Hugo Crosthwaite, pasted-up portraits of local immigrants by French artist JR, and and a photographic timeline of Mexico in the last 100 years by the photographers at El Universal, Mexico’s most prestigious print publication.

“Our creative campus is again home to an art installation that helps strengthen the interrelationship between our binational communities,” said NTC Foundation director Alan Ziter

“Birds Without Paradise” will be inaugurated on January 11 at 6 p.m and will be on display through Feb. 8.