Hunt Slonem was born in Kittery, Maine in 1951. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University of Louisiana and he studied painting at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
Since 1973, Slonem has lived and worked in New York City in his legendary loft with his seventy pet birds. The birds are his models. So enmeshed and unique are his aviary, studio and lifestyle that he has been featured on television a dozen times and in numerous articles. In his 1993 essay, the late Henry Geldzahler describes, “The visual field of Hunt Slonem’s paintings is a continuum accented by ovals of varying shape and colors that it turns out, are birds.” The birds evolved from Slonem’s early paintings of saints as well as inspiration from the pioneers of bird imagery in painting, including Fabritsius, Heade and Audubon. Slonem spends the first two hours of his day caring for his birds and the rest of the day painting them. His birds symbolize the soul and spiritual liberation. Repeated trips to India have nurtured the artist’s spirituality. His work depicts his reverence for exotic life forms. Birds are one of the great treasures of the earth that sixty million years of uninterrupted evolution have created in the rain forest. Many are now extinct because of man’s astonishing destruction. Slonem’s images are a plea to the viewer to look at these creatures before they disappear from the planet. Poet and critic John Ashbery observes, “From the narrow confines of his grids, half cage, half perch, Slonem summons dazzling explosions of the variable life around us that need only to be looked at in order to spring into being.”
Since 1977, Slonem has soloed in over one hundred fifty exhibitions at prestigious galleries. His work is exhibited globally, including in Madras, Quito, Venice, Gustavia, San Juan, Guatemala City, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Stockholm, Oslo, Cologne, Tokyo and Hong Kong.