I’ve never been particularly interested in environmental studies, and I’ve certainly never been exposed to much environmental art. But, so far during the semester I’ve found that I’m more interested in a lot of the flora and fauna and the environments that they inhabit around the world, than I thought I was initially. I had no idea where to start this assignment because as I mentioned before I’ve not been exposed to a large amount of environmental artists, but then I stumbled upon an artist known as Isabella Kirkland.
Isabella Kirkland, could be described as an artist entirely devoted to the environment as well as the plants an animals that inhabit the earth. Every piece that she’s credited for has something to do with the environment in one way or another. Kirkland is well known for both her Nova and Taxa series of paintings. Each series is made up of several large scale (48” x 36”) oil paintings, Nova containing 4 panels and Taxa containing 6.
Each piece in the Taxa series took Kirkland a year or more to complete which is extremely impressive considering almost every plant and animal was measured, drawn, and photographed in person in order to paint them in true scale. All the plants and animals in each piece are vividly recreated in extremely accurate detail, and masterful use of oil painting technique. The 2 most relevant pieces in the Taxa series to the topic of biodiversity would have to be the “Descendant” and “Ascendant”. “Descendant” shows a grouping of around 60 different plants and animals that are either presumed extinct or are on the endangered species list and are close to being gone forever. Where as “Ascendant,” depicts almost 70 nonnative, invasive, species that are successfully out-competing the native inhabitants of their respective environments.
Though the Taxa series is impressive I found the Nova series to be much more pleasant to look at. Kirkland gets much more conceptual by focusing on only flora and fauna that are new to scientific literature within the last 20 years and depicts them within an idealized environment that wouldn’t actually exist. I prefer this to the almost master still-life feel of the Taxa series where the flora and fauna are just arranged as static pieces. The Nova series has a beautiful sense of lighting and atmosphere that’s hard to deny.
Overall, I’m really glad I took the time to research this artist. I like the idea of her art being used to make viewers aware of all of these different plants and animals that are either close to extinction or perhaps already are, but she also wants to show the beauty of new unique species that most probably haven’t even heard of.
-Dan Mitchell (DeathMetalDan)