Sunday, September 4, 2011
Isa Leshko: Old But Still Adorable Animals
Posted by Jay at 7:03 AM
This week has seen a humongous bull calmly posing with his human handler and a tiny Dr. Dolittle girl in the embrace of elephants. These are pictures you wouldn't normally see on the Internet because of the rarity of the subject or occurrence, but there are even more images that most people wouldn't bother to take, even if they were right in front of them. Old animals don't get the attention that cute and adorable puppies and kittens get, so it's nice to so have photographer Isa Leshko devote her time to documenting these elderly creatures.
Isa Leshko is a photographer based in Philadelphia, but only started her career seriously in her 30s. Her photographs have been exhibited in many galleries and museums, and have also been published in different magazines. She has also published a few of her photographs in Thrills & Chills, a collection of images which explore the excitement and fear that surround extreme amusement park rides.
Her next project is a compete 180 degree turn from the thrilling (or nauseating) rides of theme parks; her series entitled Elderly Animals focuses on pets and rescued animals that are in the twilight of their years.
Leshko began working on her Elder Animals series after a chance encounter with a blind 34-year old horse belonging to a neighbor. After photographing her first animal subject, she sought out other elderly animals on farms and in shelters nearby. It also became a way of expressing her emotions about her mother who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at that time.
It is interesting to see that not all old animals look the way that you would expect; because they come from different backgrounds, some of them don't look any older than the average pet, others look like the dignified elder statesman, while others look completely worn out and are just about to say their last goodbye.
Leshko's work is interesting if only for the fact that not a lot of attention is given to elder animals. Given the number of images of cute puppies and lolcats, you would think that you would find a couple of pictures of older cats and dogs, but most probably, you'll only encounter a few or even none while you browse the web.
This is probably because people's idea of their elders extends to animals as well. Leshko herself declined to take photographs of her mother in declining health, and it's not improbable that most people wouldn't be inclined to take pictures of loved ones who are in their waning state. While these animals may look nothing like people we know, something in their eyes betray a certain awareness of their own impending fate.
No wonder these photographers are both mesmerizing and hard to look at for more than a few seconds.
Isa Leshko's website is here and her Facebook page is here. She hasn't published her Elderly Animals series yet,so if you have an old dog, cat or other four-legged companion, go to them and hug them. Right now.