EXPLORE: Isabella Kirkland
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"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."
- isabellakirkland.com October 2017
Isabella Kirkland is an artist and an associate at the California Academy of Sciences who archives extinct, endangered, and new species. She uses methods from European still life painters, 18th and 19th century naturalists, and scientific illustration to explore the shifting states of permanence and impermanence in our world. Inspired by the belief that objects can be imbued with power, she transfers her meticulously researched observations of specimens into an imaginary bricolage that conjure hope and survival of the earth and all of its species.
Artist Talks, Reviews, and Articles
Artist's Lecture at the Now Long Foundation. Overview of her past and current bodies of work.
Earth Island Journal Article Overview on Kirkland's work
The New York Times* review of exhibition Nova which documents newly discovered species.
* The New York Times online subscription required for access
Traditions Present in Isabella Kirkland's Paintings
Connections to other Naturalists Observing Transient Life
Maria Sibylla Merian
The Woman Who Made Science Beautiful
The Atlantic 2016
In the Early 20th Century, the Department of Tropical Research Was Full of Glamorous Adventure
Smithsonian Magazine 2017
Dinosaurs and meteorites: Museum scientists describe 552 new species in 2021
Natural History Museum UK
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species
National Wildlife Federation: Endangered Species