Painter Sharon Reeber, a native of New York, has lived for more than 20 years in Weston, where she enjoys watching wildlife. Turkey buzzards feature prominently in some of the works in her current exhibition, “Skyward,” at ArtsKC, 106 Southwest Blvd. The show is up through Jan. 7.
Reeber studied at Tufts University in Boston and the University of Tübingen in Germany and earned a master’s in art history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. This conversation took place at the gallery.
Q: What inspired the paintings in your “Soar” series?
A: Most of them are referring to soaring birds that I experienced in Weston that I see in rural Missouri. Most of them are based on turkey vultures. Many people mistake turkey vultures for hawks. I am very interested in turkey vultures.
Q: Also known as buzzards.
Q: What interests you about them?
A: I think they are underestimated and very often they are reviled by people because they associate them with death. They think of them as sort of disgusting and bringers of death but actually, in my mind, they are a positive force because they are contributing to the ecology, to the cycle of life.
They are not adding to death, they are cleaning up the dead.
Q: They are not predators.
A: Not at all. The hawks that we think are so beautiful are the predators.
During my opening reception some people were complimenting the “hawks” in my pictures and when I said they were turkey vultures, they went “Ewww.” People need to rethink that. I’m kind of an advocate of vultures.
Q: The turkey vultures are not the only things going on in your paintings. What else are you interested in?
A: Landscape. It is not my goal to depict a landscape that I see, but to take that as a point of departure, an idea to connect other ideas to.
I’m also thinking about cycles of life and death, and cycles within nature, lines that sort of connect. I’m thinking about the microcosm and the macrocosm. I’m trying to make a connection between the worlds that we see and the worlds that we don’t see.
Q: The turkey vulture paintings are called “Soar.” They do soar better than any other birds, don’t they?
A: Yeah, they are connecting with unseen currents of air. They are expressing the thermals that are rising that we aren’t even aware of because we can’t see them.