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Isabella Kirkland: Material Longevity

Thu Sep 03, 2020 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Watch the recorded talk here:

An "infectious spirit of care" (New York Times) emanates from Isabella Kirkland's paintings. Their transcendentalist realism at first seems historic as it retrieves a style associated with still lives and natural histories of past centuries. A closer look reveals that all animals and flowers are endangered species, often from a specific part of the world, and the colonial aesthetic reverses itself into an aesthetic of attention, accountability. In this talk Kirkland will dive into the deep histories and meanings of her renderings of a natural world in transformation. 

An artist working in the classical naturalistic tradition of John James Audubon and other wildlife painters, Isabella Kirkland subtly bends the form to address the ecological challenges facing the world in the age of global warming. Her paintings, which often fuse the style of Dutch Master still lifes with outdoors tableaux for a dreamlike effect, offer tender interactions of plants and animals—shadowed by the understanding that the planet is in flux.

In recent years, Kirkland has worked on three interwoven series of paintings, Gone, Resurrected, and New, that respectively depict species that have been extinct since 1800, rescued from the brink of annihilation, or freshly discovered. In 2008, the series NOVA (New Species) was shown at the Toledo Art Museum, and she also received a survey at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, that year.

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