Isa Leshko

, , Grantee Link >

Isa Leshko is a photographer and artist. She writes:

I received a grant that funded a trip to Washington state in May 2016 to visit Pasado’s Safe Haven. My grant also paid for rolls of film and photo lab services (e.g., high resolution scans, digital darkroom alterations). For the last several years, I have worked on a book of intimate photographic portraits of geriatric farm animals that will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2018. It is nothing short of a miracle to be in the presence of a farmed animal who has managed to reach old age. By depicting the beauty and dignity of farmed animals in their senior years, I ask viewers to reflect upon what is lost when these animals are slaughtered at a young age. With this work, I strive to depict the unique personality of each animal I photograph to demonstrate that farmed animals are emotional sentient beings. While in Washington, I created several new images that will appear in my book. These images were also included in an artist talk I gave at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics Summer School held in July 2016. In the art world, animal-themed artwork (especially photographic art) is often dismissed as being too sentimental. Although there are numerous grants for photojournalism and documentary photography, most of these foundations only fund work with a humanitarian focus. Many high-profile portraiture competitions explicitly exclude animal-themed work. If you are an artist who creates portraits of non-human animals, finding funding for your work can be quite challenging.

2020 Updates:
Since receiving her 2017 grant, Isa has published her monograph Allowed to Grow Old: Portrait of Elderly Rescued Farm Animals with the University of Chicago Press. It includes essays by activist Gene Baur, NY Times bestselling author Sy Montgomery, and curator Anne Wilkes Tucker. The book is now on its second printing, and was selected by Buzzfeed as one of the best photography books of 2019, and was a coffee table book recommendation for The New York Times 2019 Holiday Gift Guide.