The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
By Giselle Heraux, AIRIE Photographer Krista Elrick
Photographer Krista Elrick is not taking an ordinary road trip. There is no visit to the Grand Canyon or a Broadway play on her agenda. Instead, Elrick is following in naturalist painter John James Audubon’s footsteps, and the trail has led her to Everglades National Park, where she is Artist in Residence during the month of November.
Elrick has been rephotographing the sites where Audubon lived, traveled, and sketched his famous bird paintings, and will lecture about her project during the Deering Estate at Cutler's Deering Goes to the Birds event, at 10:30 AM on November 17th. Referring to Audubon's journals, which she collected from various institutions, Elrick has been able to pinpoint the exact locations he visited.
Of the 500-mile Natchez Trail, which Audubon walked several times, Elrick observed, “No place is at all how he first saw it.” At Three Buttes, where Audubon camped and sketched during his last expedition, in 1843, she found a lot of cows and oil rigs. “I have rules for my project,” she says, “and no matter what the places look like I am going to make the images.”
Elrick came to her love of birds while she was working with artist Jack Loeffler, on a film about cancer survivors. Loeffler and Elrick decided to use birds to represent the emotions of the survivors, so she began photographing birds and instantly became intrigued.
“Birds were more of a metaphor of life and passing,” says Elrick, herself a cancer survivor. “I felt I could relate to them.” She began her five year project on Audubon, studying his work and then tracing his footsteps.
Several institutions with particular interest in Audubon have agreed to display her work when it is complete, and in 2013, her work will be hosted at the 75 anniversary celebration at the John James Audubon Museum in Henderson, Kentucky.
Elrick is partnering with the crowd-funding program USA Projects to raise $10,000 in support of the project. The funding will allow her to process and print her negatives, and to rent a plane in order to photograph some sites from the air, or as she calls it “a birds eye view.”
To support Elrick’s project, click here.