Artist Talk: Isa Leshko

Thursday, Sep 19, 2019 1 – 2 pm

1821 W Hubbard, Ste. 207, Chicago, IL 60622

Free

Location: Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel, 163 East Walton Place

Isa Leshko will be signing her book, Allowed to Grow Old, after the talk and also at The Portfolio Walk.  Books will be available for sale at the Festival.

“For nearly a decade, I have visited farm animal sanctuaries across America to create photographic portraits of geriatric animals. I began this series shortly after caring for my mom who had Alzheimer’s disease. The experience had a profound effect on me and forced me to confront my own mortality. I am terrified of growing old and I started photographing geriatric animals in order to take an unflinching look at this fear. As I met rescued farm animals and heard their stories, though, my motivation for creating this work changed. I became a passionate advocate for these animals and I wanted to use my images to speak on their behalf.

For this series, I have also photographed elderly companion animals. I juxtapose these images with my farmed animal portraits to exemplify the similarities among these animals and to invite inquiry into why we pamper some animals and butcher others.

Nearly all of the farm animals I met for this project endured horrific abuse and neglect prior to their rescue. Yet it is a massive understatement to say that they are the lucky ones. Roughly fifty billion land animals are factory farmed globally each year. It is nothing short of a miracle to be in the presence of a farm animal who has managed to reach old age. Most of their kin die before they are six months old. By depicting the beauty and dignity of elderly farm animals, I invite reflection upon what is lost when these animals are not allowed to grow old”.

–Isa Leshko

Isa Leshko is an artist whose work examines themes relating to animal rights, aging, and mortality. She has received fellowships from the Bogliasco Foundation, the Culture & Animals Foundation, the Houston Center for Photography, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and the Silver Eye Center for Photography. She has exhibited her work widely in the United States, and her prints are in numerous private and public collections including the Boston Public Library, Fidelity Investments, the Harry Ransom Center, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Leshko’s images have been published in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, The Guardian, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, and Süddeutsche Zeitung. In April 2019, the University of Chicago Press published her first monograph, Allowed to Grow Old: Portraits of Elderly Rescued Farm Animals, which included essays by activist Gene Baur, NY Times bestselling author Sy Montgomery, and curator Anne Wilkes Tucker.

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