In one of the first events associated with its new fall BIG IDEA project, Marketplaces: From Open Air to Online, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts will present a lecture by Kirk Wallace Johnson, author of “The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century” and “To Be a Friend Is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind.” Johnson also founded The List Project, a nonprofit that helps Iraqi refugees who worked for U.S-affiliated organizations during the war in Iraq to resettle in the U.S. His lecture will be held Thursday, Sept.12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum.
Beyond his books, Johnson’s writing has appeared in many high-profile publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. He is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the American Academy in Berlin and the USC Annenberg Center. Before founding The List Project, Johnson served in Iraq with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Baghdad and later in Fallujah as the Agency’s first coordinator for reconstruction in that war-torn city. Born in West Chicago, Johnson received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago. He lives with his wife and son in Los Angeles.
“’The Feather Thief’ is Johnson’s investigation into the theft of hundreds of rare bird skins from the British Natural History Museum in 2009,” said Katelyn Foley, Director of Education and Humanities at The Center. “The book exposes rare bird trafficking and links to the world of fly-tying enthusiasts. It is a colorful, true tale, mixing natural history and crime.”
Johnson’s lecture has been generously sponsored by an anonymous gift. Tickets to the lecture are $20 for members of The Center and $30 for nonmembers. For more information about this event or to purchase tickets, visit www.sunvalleycenter.org or call The Center’s box office at 208.726.9491.