Elise Kirk: The 2015 Lenscratch Student Prize Honorable Mention
The work of Elise Kirk looks into the places and people that reside in the least populous and yet the largest portion of our country. She captures the essence of what it’s like to live here, the hilarity, the inactivity and, at times, the overwhelming quietness.
Elise Kirk studied documentary film at Columbia College Chicago (BA ’00), investigated representations of the family in Spanish cinema on a Fulbright grant in Madrid (’01), and graduated with an MFA in photography from Rhode Island School of Design (’15), where she received a Graduate Studies Grant to make much of the work seen here. She was also the recent recipient of a Student Award for Innovations in Imaging from the Society for Photographic Education. Elise is fascinated with familial relationships (both inherited and constructed), mythologies of place, and the impermanence of all of the above.
I come from the middle of the country, down my own inner road between two households, where I grew up surrounded by a groundedness I couldn’t quite touch. Now I lap the nation in pursuit of an unreachable landing pad, and the middle stays with me like an anchor — a secure attachment to a Midwest myth of agrarian rootedness. Yet in my travels I encounter a different view of the region. For many, the middle states are no potential rooting ground but a place to be passed through on the way to another in our restless search for greatness.
Mid— resides in this intersection: between pulling up stakes and putting down roots, between desire and hesitation, staying and going. Here, interstate highways speed travelers and truckers past the homesteads and farm towns that have sustained kinships for time immemorial. A billboard alongside this interior stretch cries for the passerby’s attention. It’s more than an exit. It’s a trip.
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
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