• Isabella Kirkland

Isabella Kirkland: Material Longevity

An “infectious spirit of care” (New York Times) emanates from Isabella Kirkland’s paintings. Their transcendentalist realism at first seems historic as it retrieves an antiquated style. A closer look, however, reveals the 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 and accountability. In this talk, Kirkland dives into the deep histories and meanings of her renderings of a natural world in transformation.

Working in the classical, naturalistic tradition of John James Audubon and other wildlife painters, 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 outdoor 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.

Participants and topics are subject to change; visit Berkeley Arts + Design (artsdesign.berkeley.edu) for the most up-to-date series information.