From Loring Knoblauch’s review for Collector Daily:

When we look at well made photographic portraits of the elderly or the aged, we are inevitably drawn in by the way the passing of time is reflected in their faces and bodies. If the people happen to be our own parents or grandparents, there are of course many additional layers of familial love, connection, and memory that infuse our impression of these images, but even if the sitters are strangers to us, and even if they are afflicted by diseases, traumas, and losses that have left them less than they once were, we still see the hardened traces of their individual stories etched on their faces. They seem to poignantly carry their history with them, almost regardless of the specifics of their lives, and do so all the way to their last days.

Isa Leshko’s photographs of the elderly fit right into this tradition of attentive portrait making. After building trust with her sitters, she gets in close, making empathetic portraits that tenderly capture the personalities of her subjects. Like many elders, they each continue to struggle along, with loneliness, weariness, battered bodies, and the residues of hardships endured, both physical and emotional. But Leshko has photographed them with respect and dignity, teasing out flashes of recognition from even the most reluctant of her subjects. She has taken the time to be present, and that investment pays off in pictures that consistently tell rich stories.

The twist in this narrative comes from the fact that her elderly sitters aren’t people, but animals. Saved from the slaughterhouse, deliberate extermination, or the veterinary euphemism of “being put down”, these aging farm animals, racehorses, wild sheep, and rescue dogs now inhabit various animal sanctuaries around the United States, where they can comfortably live out their days in the animal equivalent of a human nursing home or retirement community.

Read the full review

Browse the exhibition “Allowed to Grow Old” at ClampArt
Browse all of Isa Leshko’s work at ClampArt