The inspiration behind my submission is a combination of the lyrics to the song “I Wish I Knew How It Feels to be Free” and the history of Nina Simone. I plan to design a portrait of Nina with a collage of migratory songbirds (maybe some flowers as well) replacing her hair. These specific birds are found between North Carolina where she is from, all the way up to Salem, MA. The cardinal is prominent because it is the state bird of NC and is a symbol of hope. Cardinals tend to appear when you need them the most. Nina’s music did this for communities of color all over during the civil rights movement. The blue jay, a native bird to MA, is a symbol of intelligence and fearlessness. Its unique song is easily identifiable similar to Nina’s incredible one-of-a-kind voice. I included the Blue Jay because it has a distinguished song that many people in MA would be able to recognize.
Nina mentions in her song the dream to have the ability to fly and see life from a different angle. The perspective of looking at the world below her and knowing how it feels to be free from that place is the vision she needed to continue on in her journey in life as a change maker. The view from a bird’s perspective would provide her the knowledge to see what is on the other side of all the problems facing America at that time.
By collaging these colorful birds into her hair, I am intending to compliment her description of flying with the birds that would have been around her and the communities she loved. Nina’s voice is so unique that I felt it important to also make sure every bird in the portrait is a bird with a very unique voice and song of its own.