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Be sure to ‘Feed the Chickens’

New art installation uses recycled material, encourages viewer involvement

Valentina Heishman, left, stands beside Amanda Bury as they exhibit Heishman's latest sculpture, "Feed the Chickens," outside of Bury's business at 97 Albany St.

Valentina Heishman, left, stands beside Amanda Bury as they exhibit Heishman's latest sculpture, "Feed the Chickens," outside of Bury's business at 97 Albany St. Photo by Pierce Smith.

— Although the keeping of chickens has been prohibited by the village of Cazenovia, a flock of mechanized fowl has found its way onto Albany Street.

Valentina Heishman, a local artist and associate at Amanda Bury Antiques, combined found wood, metal and other organic materials to create a large sculpture which she describes as an adult-sized, retro, chicken-pecking toy, entitled “Feed the Chickens.” The piece is currently on display outside of Bury’s business at 97 Albany St.

“One day I had the idea for the piece and just started looking for stuff,” Heishman said. “These chickens alternate pecking using centripetal force. My mind isn’t attuned to math, so I had a fun time trying to figure out the angles I needed to make everything work. I like the idea of people taking a few minutes to look at everything and explore its function as they pass by.”

The idea of viewer-involvement first came to Heishman after one of her recent works “Small Town on the Lake” became more of a tactile experience than a “look-don’t-touch” sculpture.

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Val Heishman's "Feed the Chickens" is made of found wood, metal and other organic materials. Heishman describes the piece as an adult-sized, retro, chicken-pecking toy.

While the Feed the Chickens has not yet been claimed by any local art collectors, Heishman has been successfully selling her artwork at Bury’s shop. She recently sold one of her pieces entitled “St. Francis” to an area resident, and plans on producing more, due to high demand.

Her habit of using organic and repurposed materials separates her work apart from many other artists and often brings to mind the adage “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Her pieces can often be classified as eco-outsider art, as much of the material she uses is natural and found on outdoor excursions and once-occupied areas.

Heishman has woven miles of grapevine from Owera Vineyards’ fields into custom bottle carriers for the winery’s clients, and has become a familiar face at the local landfill on Constine Bridge Road, where she said she occasionally goes to rescue interesting objects from certain demise. Heishman largely credits the “generous donors” and “understanding employees” of the landfill for facilitating her increasingly interesting works.

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