Overview

“There is an antique quality of the work I do. I think of this realistic style as a warp thread I chose to pick up and work with after our centuries’ long hiatus from realistic painting.  Accurate descriptive depiction of plants and animals has served the biological sciences practically since the invention of the printing press. The lion’s share of this service has been for the purposes of diagnostic differentiation. Post Linnaeus, scientific illustration has functioned as a tool of speciation: often highlighting those traits or markers that signify a particular species, while downplaying less defining visual characteristics.

 

"I choose to apply a similar accuracy to a different service: to the building of an analog visual record of what we are going to lose in the coming centuries. I want the images I build of select, representative species to stand witness to their own loss… just as Guernica stood witness to a political massacre, and the painting, The Raft of the Medusa, bore witness to the sinking of a naval vessel.

 

"Using old methods I hope to make a meaningful set of iconic images that record, identify, represent, and bear witness to the fate of individual species. We are all inundated with digital data and visuals while simultaneously maddened by the speed with which our own digital records become outdated and obsolete by new operating software.  Printing inks are notoriously short lived as you can easily see if you open an illustrated book from the 1950’s: the colors have decayed in just a half century.

 

"I have painted these biota as accurately as I have found possible, researching each extensively in natural history collections and herbaria, using methods and materials of the highest conservatorial standards. I paint in the time-tested medium of oils so that, assuming the paintings survive the ravages of time, these works will stand mute witness to some of the life forms lost during this Anthropocene Era.” – Isabella Kirkland

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