Listening to Raven Exhibit 1/1 - 2/26/23 Beth Shalom Temple Center Green Valley, AZ
"Most ravens seem to have a love of life and joy of play that connect easily with people. The drawings of Beth Surdut capture this aspect of ravens as well as or better than any artist I have seen. Not only are they anatomically correct and the postures shown accurate, but after looking at one her drawings for awhile,
I am always left with the question—I wonder what that bird is thinking?
Surdut is able to capture this without making her ravens look like "little people."
The birds in her drawings actually do look and behave just like ravens do."
~Dr. Peter Stacey, Department of Biology, University of New Mexico
Hand-signed, museum-quality archival piment prints are available for purchase. Like life, there's more to these pieces than black and white, with color nuances not fully represented online. Images may be surrounded with more white than shown. Signed archival prints range $300-$425 USD
All images are copyrighted. Never download or use without permission.
The Reason Why © Beth Surdut
Ravens provide humans with surprising benefits. Their cleverness is admired by scientists, their mystery acknowledged throughout world cultures.
To my delight, the drawings and stories of Listening To Raven, which won the top Literary Award for Nonfiction at the Tucson Festival of Books, inspires people to bring me stories of science and spirit. Strangers ask for face
Listening to Raven © Beth Surdut
I didn’t undergo any of the rigors of a traditional vision quest to find my spirit animal; he came courting. Insistent and imposing, Raven showed up and did the corvid equivalent of crossing his wings, tapping his foot, and saying, “Hey babe, when are you coming? We have work to do!”
I listened, and moved to the Southwest.
Walks Like A Man © Beth Surdut
In my dream, Raven lopes towards me, mouth wide open.
I draw every feather and shadow until he walks off the page to tell me why he is here.
This drawing was included in an international scientific illustrators exhibit at the New York State Museum in Albany, where he also strutted across an Art Billboard with the rest of this raven clan.
The Ravens of Truth and Memory
© Beth Surdut
The Norse God Odin sent two Ravens out each day—Thought and Memory. I changed Thought to Truth, who gently preens Memory until both birds shine.
David Allen Sibley included this image in the For The Birds exhibit in Lowell, MA . In 2022, these birds were chosen for the Art- Fluent Director's Choice Award in the international A
Knowing Raven © Beth Surdut
Fires were burning the aspen forest, where the late afternoon sun shone bluely across Raven’s back He stood near me on a tree stump, attentive, never laughing at my gurgling attempts to communicate.
I know he is a messenger, if only I can figure out what he’s telling me.
The Egg Thief © Beth Surdut
Raven flew directly towards my studio window, then veered upwards, turned and landed in a big pine tree. Head forward, placing one foot purposely in front of the other, he moved through the branches right towards the songbird’s nest that I knew held three eggs. I ran into the garden, flapping my arms. Raven glared at me and took off.
The Landing, © Beth Surdut
In the kitchen.
Above my head.
A darkness on the frosted skylight.
A cat, I thought, and went outside calling, “Here kitty kitty.”
The big raven walked to the edge of the flat roof.
“What do you mean, kitty,” said Raven, looking down at me.
Ten Generations en la Troca ©Beth Surdut
Befriending a raven couple, an Alaskan man babysat 10 generations of fledges in the back of his truck,
a vehicle as iconic in the Southwest as Raven. The older, rounded weathered forms made by man mimic not only the languid curves and patinas of the high desert, but also the rugged beauty of Alaska, where Raven is a central character in creation stories.
The Next Shaman ©Beth Surdut
The Kwakiutl people of British Columbia offered a child's afterbirth to the beaks of ravens in hopes that the boy would grow to learn the language of corvids. All those hopes and superstitions focused on a tiny body that might learn Raven's wisdom, trickery, creativity, and magic--- a new messiah, the next Dalai Lama, the next peacemaker. Perhaps this little juvie,
The Gathering ©Beth Surdut,
This drawing of raven feet roosts in NM.
“I tell people the feet spell “love” in raven,” said the mother. Her son, after returning home from college, to live in a nearby house, put out food and water for the birds.
The Compass of My Heart ©Beth Surdut
A compass glinted between Raven’s feet as he lengthened his legs to land. It had been a bad day—a friend had been shot, not killed, by some crazy teenager with a 357 Magnum the color of raven feathers.
Wings whisked the air as Raven lofted onto my shoulder, nuzzling his beak into my hair. “What’s this?” I asked.
“Pay attention to what I’ve brought you,” he murm
The Thing I Do For Love © Beth Surdut
Raven swoops in once a day to steal a chicken egg. Even in winds howling like La Llorona, he takes an egg in his beak to present to his waiting mate, who was hopping impatiently in the budding desert, leaving a mosaic of white and brown shells amidst the juniper and piñon trees.
Raven Tell © Beth Surdut
At the San Felipe Corn Dance, my pulse thrums with ancient chants as 1500 people dance the heartbeat of the land. It is by their grace that I am here.
Hours later, with Raven by my side, I look for spirit carvings amidst the traditional regalia of whole fox pelts and skunk anklets. A seller of Zuni fetishes has no ravens to add to the ones that watch over me as I draw.