Artist Diana Beltran Herrera pays homage to all types of birds by meticulously rendering our feathered friends as paper sculptures. For years, we have marveled over her ability to translate birds’ beautiful plumage and their majestic wingspans into faux creatures who, at first glance, look like the real thing.
Herrera’s lifelike paper flock features birds of all shapes and sizes, from the majestic salmon-crested cockatoo to the fluttering violet-crowned woodnymph. Achieving these incredible likenesses—regardless of breed—is the result of much research. “I spend a lot of hours collecting images of the subject in different positions,” Herrera explains to My Modern Met, “then I do some reading to find the right measurements.” The color of the birds is also an important aspect to the artist, so she spends additional time trying to find the right shades and tones of paper. All told, it takes a minimum of a week to research a particular bird. “It isn’t just looking at a photo and grabbing some scissors to cut the paper,” she explains. “I do a lot of planning, so half the work is getting all the pieces and their measurements.”
Once the research is complete, Herrera begins to build her subject. She starts with an armature using the same paper that the rest of the creature will be made of. “When I started to work with paper,” she recalls, “I was developing very structural elements. I used to have a lot of strips of paper that I used to cut and glue to form a volume.” This approach has stuck, and now she uses it whenever she produces a three-dimensional object. “I find it very flexible because almost any shape can be created with paper.”
Herrera has built a lot of sculptures, but she still has many types of birds she’d like to recreate. “I would like to do really ordinary birds such as a seagull and a pigeon,” she shares. “These are birds I see every day and are so undermined. I find beauty in them and feel sorry that they have become so used to living in our artificial environment.” Although wistful, she enjoys studying these common creatures and respects them. She admits, “They are quite smart.”