Flock, A Storytelling of Crows

A site-specific installation proposal for the Peekskill Project 2006
by Curt Belshe and Lise Prown.


Eagles commonly fly alone. They are crows, daws, and starlings that flock together.

                                                   John Webster (1580–1625), British dramatist.


The genus Corvus (crows, ravens and jackdaws) is remarkable in many ways, and is notable for its historic ties to human beings. This is evidenced by the incredible variety of stories, myths, and superstitions about this genus found worldwide, and by imagery of crows dating back to the cave markings of early man. The Japanese admired crows for their filial devotion, believing that young crows were well cared for by their parents and that, in turn, they cared for their parents. For the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, raven was not only the creator but also a clown, mischief maker, shape changer, and trickster.  Crows live complex social lives and coexist closely with humans. While humans have shaped Corvid behavior and habits via our ongoing impact on the environment, crows have impacted our actions and beliefs throughout the ages as powerful cultural symbols, hunting partners, and scavengers of our leavings.



We plan to create a “flock” of at least one hundred 22” weatherproof circular signs in shades of yellow with silhouetted figures of crows that would be suspended from four sycamore trees on a downtown street. On one side of each sign will be a silhouetted figure and on the reverse the same image will be overlaid with a word or short phrase. The words will represent many cultural aspects of the ties between man and bird. The following are examples of likely words: ravenous, west nile virus, crowbar, rook, eat crow, as a crow flies, jim crow, cackle, cachinnation, tribe devotion, and more. These words reveal, in their complexity and contradiction, a web of meaning that informs our relationship with this fascinating species.

Proposed Location:

Four sycamore trees on the north side of Brown Street between the Paramount and the Elks Lodge, next to the municipal parking lot.


This project will require technical assistance from the City of Peekskill. We will need to work with the Peekskill Public Works Department’s specialized bucket truck in order to hang our installation.