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A new flock of birds landed in Kingsport today—painted birds, that is. The installation of the “Silent Skies Mural Project,” which features portraits of all 678 birds on the endangered species list, began in downtown Kingsport this morning, Tuesday, February 5.

This 24-foot by 50-foot vinyl-printed mural will hang at the corner of Market and Broad Streets, where the “Humanae” mural once hung. The “Silent Skies Mural Project” is a representation of an installation that opened in Vancouver, Canada, last August. That installation featured the original 678 portraits on 8-inch by 8-inch canvases, arranged in a 100-foot mural. Artists for Conservation, a Canada-based non-profit that promotes conservation through wildlife art, launched the collaborative project with an international call for artists.

Kingsport’s own Suzanne Barrett Justis is a Signature Member of Artists for Conservation, and “Silent Skies” features six of her portraits. The windows of her gallery, Suzanne Barrett Justis Fine Art, look out directly onto the wall where the mural will hang. This morning, she was out on the street excitedly taking pictures of the mural installation, which is expected to be done by end-of-day.

“It’s exciting for me as an artist,” Justis said, “but I hope it’s exciting for Kingsport to say, ‘Hey, we have this mural, and one of our own is on it.’”

The idea of printing the mural on vinyl was Justis’ idea. A longtime wildlife and conservation artist who originally studied animal science, Justis believed it was important to bring this mural to as many places and people as possible. While the original installation has hung in Vancouver and Arizona and is now set to travel to China, Justis is working hard to bring vinyl versions to cities and zoos across the country. The Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts worked with Justis to make Kingsport the very first place to host the vinyl installation.

“This mural is bringing awareness to the 678 endangered species of birds,” Justis said. “It’s also letting international artists shine, and it has a call to action to learn more about each species.”

The mural invites people to visit http://www.artistsforconservation.org where they can view each bird portrait online. Prints of each portrait are available for purchase, and the proceeds will benefit conservation education among youth, as well as bird conservation.

The “Silent Skies Mural Project” will hang in downtown Kingsport for six months. For more information, please visit http://www.artistsforconservation.org. To learn more about the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts, please visit https://engagekingsport.com.