Silent Messenger ~ Raven- Wyoming black granite ~ 12Óh x 60Ów x 30Ód Sarcophagus- Colorado red sandstone ~ 14Óh x 70Ów x 40Ód Collection of National Museum of Wildlife Art

Silent Messenger. Raven- Wyoming black granite, Sarcophagus- Colorado red sandstone. Collection of National Museum of Wildlife Art, photo via stevekestrel.com

Can art change the world? Artist Steve Kestrel, who works with found stone in Northern Colorado, certainly hopes so. For his sculpture, Silent Messenger, Kestrel sculpted a six-foot long sarcophagus from Colorado sandstone and placed a giant black granite raven, lying on its back, within it. Currently on view at Wyoming’s National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, it sends a chilling message.

“I usually celebrate the earth’s flora and fauna in my work,” Kestrel explains. But this time he wanted to pose a challenge: “In the next century, will our societies and artists celebrate the remaining wildlife or mourn their passing?”

Wyoming writer Cate Cabot thought that this sculpture held a potent message not just for adults, but for students throughout Wyoming, so she designed The Messenger: Silent No More Project. This spring the project began with field trips to see Silent Messenger that carried back to their classrooms.

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Cate Cabot with students for The Messenger: Silent No More Project

In May, Cabot guided 160 students, in small groups, to visit and respond to Silent Messenger. Using writing, mythic references, discussions about climate change and species affected by it—in short, creativity and imagination paired with research—the students deeply explored the work and its themes.

Following the field trips, the Teton Raptor Center brought live birds into classrooms and students produced individual projects, translating their research into messages to be presented and passed on. Both students and educators were fired up!

“Most kids, and most adults for that matter, rarely have intimate experiences with art – yet this is where real change happens,” one teacher said. “And for myself, now I’m burning up with ideas.”

What do you think? Read more about Silent Messenger and share ideas with us for ways that art can make a difference in saving our ecosystem. If you’d like to see the sculpture, you can visit the Conservation Gallery at the NMWA. And if you live in Wyoming and want to take part in The Messenger: Silent No More Project, email us at info@artandwriting.org and we’ll put you in touch with Cate Cabot!

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Students responding to Silent Messenger.

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