Birders in Living Color

Philadelphia artist Makeba “KEEBS” Rainey's portraits of In Color Birding Club members celebrate inclusivity in her hometown

  • By Jennifer Wehunt // Art by Makeba "KEEBS" Rainey
  • Conservation
  • Mar 28, 2024

IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A PLANE! It’s a joyous homage to real-life heroes! “Their Eyes Were Watching God”—a roughly 30-foot-by-8-foot installation commissioned by the Philadelphia International Airport (see more photos below)—is artist Makeba “KEEBS” Rainey’s digital collage featuring members of Philadelphia’s In Color Birding Club. In the work, whose title references the 1937 Zora Neale Hurston novel, Rainey envelops her subjects in African wax cloth designs, a technique she frequently uses “as a bridge connecting Black people everywhere.” The In Color Birding Club also aims to connect the local BIPOC community by making birding, and the outdoors, accessible to all. “Community engagement plays a major role in who I make my art for and who I make it with,” says Rainey, who joined the group’s outings after putting up a bird feeder in her backyard. Follow Rainey on Instagram @justkeebs; learn more at; and find BIPOC birding events nationwide May 26 to June 1 via #blackbirdersweek2024.

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