Bird Girl by Luba Lowry
In 1994, John Berendt’s book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story, made its initial appearance and became an instant and longstanding New York Times bestseller. Suddenly, a 1936 bronze sculpture by Sylvia Shaw Judson (1897-1978) entitled “Bird Girl” was thrust into the national spotlight. The statue played no textual role in Berendt’s book, but was front and center on the book’s cover after it caught the eye of Jack Leigh, the photographer commissioned to provide its cover photograph. When originally photographed, the statue was the central memorial element of a family burial plot in Savannah’s infamous Bonaventure Cemetery. Almost immediately after the book was released, the Bird Girl was removed for safekeeping — it had rested unmolested in Bonaventure since being purchased in 1940 by Lucy Boyd Trosdal (1881-1971) to stand over her family burial plot. A few years later, the family brought the statue to the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, where she is still on public exhibit. Luba’s rendition of the popular “Bird Girl” in oil, offers a semi-opaque and translucent frontal view in which the image appears to be floating.