This is an Aku Bird.
Technically, it’s a Black Noddy, but in Hawai’i it is one of several species of birds known as Aku birds because they follow schools of tuna (Aku) in search of the same food the tuna feed on. Fishermen look for the aku birds when determining where to fish for tuna. In slang though, an Aku Bird is someone who shows up to a party empty handed. He’s happy to eat your chips and drink your beer, but never goes on a beer run himself. It’s not unusual to see a No Aku Birds bumper sticker on a cooler.
My aku bird is no freeloader. It is stitched by machine and by hand on a mat woven lauhala style out of plastic bags. It will be part of a collaborative “quilt” made up of images of many marine animals affected by plastics. The finished work will be displayed next month at McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville, VA.
For the same show I’ve also knitted a wing-cape for the dance group to use in a performance, and a woven fish trap made from plastic bags.