Tina Piña, better known as Mother Pigeon (@motherpigeonbrooklyn), is an artist and self-described “high priestess of the pigeon religion,” whose passion for New York City’s often-overlooked bird has helped her carve out a unique creative niche centered around pigeons—as well as a lifestyle geared towards helping New Yorkers appreciate the misunderstood creatures.
“My whole world revolves around taking care of pigeons, making the [craft] pigeons, going out and talking to people about the pigeons, and dressing like a pigeon,” says Tina. “It’s just part of my love that I’ve put everything into this, and it’s a lot of fun.”
An artist by trade, Mother Pigeon has been selling her handmade fabric pigeons in New York City for over 10 years. “I saw someone had knitted a pigeon, and I don’t know how to knit. And I thought, ‘Well, maybe I could make one for myself out of fabric,’ and I did,” she says. At first, Tina made the fabric birds for herself, but it didn’t take long before people noticed her creations and wanted to buy some. From there, Tina’s art really started to take flight.
“When people buy my pigeons, I am always thrilled,” says Tina, who says that one of her main goals as Mother Pigeon is to shift the public’s perception of pigeons—whose ubiquity in the city often leaves them ignored or overlooked.
“The biggest misconception that New Yorkers have towards pigeons is that they are dirty [and] disgusting,” says Mother Pigeon. “It breaks my heart—but also, when I do what I do, I’ve had so many people come to me and say, ‘You know, I’ve changed. I now love pigeons,’ So that’s really exciting.”
A visit to Mother Pigeon’s outdoor setup is quite the experience—complete with her crafts, as well as a plentiful gathering of live pigeons, who love to stop by for a quick snack. “Part of my vocation, and in the pigeon religion, is just to get people to see them as the beautiful creatures that they are,” says Tina.
It’s easy to “pigeonhole” Tina as an artist and/or activist, but for Tina, her artistry and love for pigeons serve as central pillars for her everyday life and identity, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “What I love most about my lifestyle is that I get to do what I want to do every day. Which is [to] wake up, feed the birds, admire nature and love the birds, craft, and then go out and sell my craft and have people who love what I do,” she says. “It’s a dream. It’s a dream come true.”
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