About the exhibition

Designer, artist, and educator Rebeca Méndez is the 17th guest curator of the Selects series, for which designers, artists, writers, and cultural figures are invited to mine and interpret the permanent collection. Winner of the 2012 National Design Award for Communication Design, Rebeca Méndez was born in Mexico and is the founder of Los Angeles-based Rebeca Méndez Design. For her installation, Méndez draws on the tragic history of Aztec ruler Moctezuma II’s private aviary to reflect on birds as sources of design inspiration and scientific study, as well as victims of climate change and human avarice. Selecting design objects from Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection, bird specimens from the National Museum of Natural History, and rare books from the Smithsonian Libraries, Méndez evokes the tensions arising from humankind’s conflicting impulses towards nature. Animated with the sounds and images of bird life, Rebeca Méndez Selects invites visitors to consider how culture, design, technology, and the natural world have converged throughout history.

#RebecaMéndezSelects

Highlights

A selection of objects featured in the exhibition.

Exhibition Brochure

The cover of the exhibition brochure with the exhibition title set against an ombre pattern of gold, light blue, white, and gold bands of color. Click on the image to open the pdf of the brochure.

Supporters

Rebeca Méndez Selects is made possible by the Marks Family Foundation Endowment Fund and received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Fit for a Falcon
From the archives, an Object of the Day post on one of the works featured in Rebeca Méndez Selects.
Blossoms and Birds
From the archives, an Object of the Day post on one of the design works featured in Rebeca Méndez Selects.
Chainmail form made of silver, covered with overlapping rows of hammered, flattened feather-like steel nails; row of small, gold pod forms along inner edge; large clasp covered by roughly square panel of pale rose mother-of-pearl with gold fastenings.
No Breeze Will Ruffle These Feathers
From the archives, an Object of the Day post on one of the designs featured in Rebeca Méndez Selects.