The male species is a show-off, about the size of a crow with a punk-styled spiked haircut, a bright red chest, vibrant feathers of iridescent green and blue, and twin tail feathers with streaming plumes that can reach 3 feet in length.
“The Resplendent Quetzal was sacred to the ancient Maya and Aztec civilizations, and royalty and priests often wore the bird’s feathers during ceremonies,” explains environmental scientist John Waud, professor in the School of Life Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology. “The quetzal lives in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, in the cloud forest of the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas, Mexico.”
And now the Rochester community is invited to an opening reception for “Cloud Forest, Coffee and Quetzal: Photographs by Fulvio Eccardi” in RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences Gallery on Feb. 2. Eccardi will deliver a lecture at 6:30 p.m. in the Carlson Auditorium, immediately followed by an exhibition opening reception in SPAS Gallery, third floor of the Frank E. Gannett Hall, at 7:30 p.m. The show runs through Feb. 24.
Therese Mulligan, director of RIT’s SPAS Gallery, says Waud contacted her about his 12-years of ongoing scholarly research and conservation work in water quality and bird banding in the coastal watersheds of Chiapas. Waud is the former chair of the board of trustees of the Nature Conservancy of Central and Western New York, and the group selected their Mexican counterpart to help the conservancy with its strategic plan.
“This show is largely due to Waud’s interest in biodiversity,” explains Mulligan, “and it dovetails with our photographic arts and sciences curriculum in nature photography and also allows us to collaborate with RIT’s School of Life Sciences, The Nature Conservancy here in Rochester and preservation and sustainability of the natural world.”
The Cloud Forest exhibition showcases the 300,000-acre rainforest of Mexico’s El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, which is rich in plant and animal diversity, including coffee cultivation and the quetzal, regarded as the most beautiful bird on the American continent. Italian-born photographer and biologist Fulvio Eccardi, current president of the El Triumfo Conservation Fund (FONCET), presents compelling images of this great natural resource, its social development and the organizations that work for its preservation.
“It is a most beautiful part of the world and Chiapas is in my heart and my wife’s heart,” says Waud, who spent 2005 on sabbatical in the rain forest with his wife, Doris. “It’s a critical ecosystem and Fulvio’s wonderful photographs will give viewers the opportunity to experience the beauty of the landscape, learn about the production of the best coffee beans in the world, and see the stunning images of the Resplendent Quetzal—an endangered species that needs this high-elevation forest habitat to survive.”
SPAS Gallery, located on the third floor of Frank E. Gannett Hall, is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call Therese Mulligan at 585-475-2884 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: The School of Photographic Arts and Sciences Gallery at Rochester Institute of Technology is the primary venue for photography in western New York state. It offers an academic calendar of exhibitions by visiting artists, faculty and advanced students, artists’ talks, master classes and portfolio reviews.