Isa Leshko

Born: 1971, Carteret, NJ

Biography and Information

Biography
The series Allowed to Grow Old takes an unflinching look at the artist’s own fear of aging and mortality through a series of intimate portraits of geriatric animals. Leshko currently lives and works in Boston, MA. Her work can be found in public and private collections worldwide including Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Fidelity Investments, Boston Public Library, among others.

I travel to sanctuaries across the country to photograph animals who are elderly or at the end stage of their lives. I began the Elderly Animals series shortly after I had spent a year in New Jersey helping my sister care for our mom who had Alzheimer’s disease. The experience had a profound impact on me and forced me to confront my own mortality. Some of the animals in these images appear to be quite frail; others seem youthful despite their advanced ages. In order to achieve a sense of intimacy in these portraits, I spend several hours with the animals I photograph and I try to visit them multiple times.
Photographing geriatric animals enables me to immerse myself in my fear of growing old. I have come to realize that these images are self-portraits. Or at the very least, they are manifestations of my fears and hopes about what I will be like when I am old. Also, I want my images to inspire greater empathy toward animals, particularly farm animals. It is very rare for a farm animal to actually live its full natural lifespan given that most of these animals experience brutality and death early in their lives. By depicting the beauty and dignity of these creatures in their later years, I want people to see farm animals differently and to challenge the way these animals are currently treated.
-Isa leshko

Education
2007-2008
Artist Professional Toolbox Program, Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, Boston, MA

2002-2005
New England School of Photography: Creative Lighting, Alternative Portraiture, Large Format Photography, Using the Zone System, Boston, MA

2001
Boston Photo Collaborative: Introduction to Black and White Darkroom, Advanced Black and White Darkroom, Boston, MA

1998-2001
Harvard University Extension School, Cambridge, MA, Postbaccalaureate studies in Computer Science

1989-1993
Haverford College, Haverford, PA, B.A. with Departmental Honors in Experimental Psychology and a minor in Gender Studies

Exhibitions
2019
Allowed to Grow Old, Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA (solo)
The Qualities of Light: The Story of a pioneering New York City Photography Gallery, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ
Allowed to Grow Old, Richard Levy Gallery, Albuquerque, NM (solo)
Allowed to Grow Old, Clamp Art, New York, NY (solo)

2015

Fraction of a Second, 516 Arts, Albuquerque, NM, June 5 – August 8
Exposure 2015, Photographic Resource Center, Boston, MA

2014
Animal Dignity and the Ethics of Sight: Images by Isa Leshko & Frank Noelker, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
The Female Gaze: A Survey of Photographs by Women from the 19th to 21st Centuries, Haverford College, Atrium Gallery, Haverford, PA

2013
Elderly Animals, Richard Levy Gallery, Albuquerque, NM (solo)

2012

Snail Mail, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX
Elderly Animals, Houston Center for Photography, Houston, TX (solo)
Elderly Animals, Silver Eye Center for Photography, Pittsburgh, PA (solo)

2011
Thrills & Chills, Corden/Potts Gallery, San Francisco, CA (solo)
Isa Leshko: Elderly Animals, Galveston Arts Center, Galveston, TX (solo)
Thrills & Chills, Richard Levy Gallery Project Room, Albuquerque, NM (solo)
Portfolio 1: Gallery Artists, Corden|Potts Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2010
Thrills & Chills, Griffin Gallery, Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA (solo)
Thrills & Chills, Alliance Gallery, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston, TX (solo)
Photo Forum Exhibition, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston TX
In Review, Gallery 339, Philadelphia, PA
Found, John Cleary Gallery, Houston, TX
Portfolio Showcase Volume 4: Online Exhibit, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO
Carnival, Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, OR
International Plastic Camera Show, RayKo Photo Center, San Francisco, CA

2009
Prix de la Photographie 2009 Exhibition, Espace Dupon, Paris, France
Boston Drawing Project: 10 Years On & Still Going Strong, Carroll and Sons Art Gallery, Boston, MA
New England Photography Biennial, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA
Texas Photographic Society International Traveling Exhibit 18, Kirchman Gallery, Johnson City, TX and Center for Contemporary Arts, Abilene, TX
Enormous Tiny Art Show, Nahcotta Gallery, Portsmouth, NH
Community of Artists Juried Exhibition, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA

2007
Spectra ’07, Silvermine Guild Arts Center, New Canaan, CT
New England Photography Biennial, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA
Fidelity Investments Works on Paper Juried Exhibition, Providence Art Club, Providence, RI

2005
Krappy Kamera Show, Soho Photo Gallery, New York, NY
National Prize Show, Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge, MA (New England
Photography Biennial, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA

Collections
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University, New Haven, CT
Boston Public Library, Boston, MA
Candela Books + Gallery, Richmond, VA
Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ
Fidelity Investments Corporate Art Collection

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, TX
Haverford College Special Collections, Haverford, PA
John Cleary Library, Houston Center for Photography, Houston, TX
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
Southeast Museum of Photography Reference Library, Daytona Beach, FL
University of Texas Comer Collection of Photography, Dallas, TX

Awards
2017
Bogliasco Foundation Residency Fellowship

2016
Millay Colony for the Arts Residency Fellowship
Culture & Animals Foundation Grant

2015
Review Santa Fe Portfolio Review

2014
Photolucida Critical Mass Finalist

2012
Houston Center for Photography Fellowship
Silver Eye Center for Photography Fellowship

2011
Critical Mass Finalist
Clarence John Laughlin Award Finalist

2010
Prix de la Photographie, Paris, Second Prize, Photojournalism (Environmental/Nature), Professional Category
Prix de la Photographie, Paris, Third Prize, Book (Nature) – Professional Category
Center Review Santa Fe 100. Selection Committee: David Bram, Editor, Fraction Magazine, Katherine Ware, Curator of Photography, New Mexico Museum of Art, Denise Wolff, Editor, Book Program, Aperture
Houston Center for Photography Fellowship Competition, Honorable Mention. Juror: Brian Paul Clamp, Owner/Director of ClampArt, New York City
Black and White Spider Awards, Nominee for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Art Professional
Photolucida Critical Mass Finalist

2009
Prix de la Photographie, Paris, First and Second Prize, Advertising – Non Professional Category

2008
Black and White Spider Awards, Nominee for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Art Professional
Artist Professional Toolbox Fellowship from Arts & Business Council of Boston

Press
2019
Micaela Garber, Emotional portraits of rescued farm animals show what they look like when they’re allowed to grow old, Insider, October 4
Jean Dykstra, Portfolio Isa Leshko, Photograph, pg.66-71, September/October
Gabriel H, Sanchez, These Pictures Of Rescued Animals Will Have You Crying Tears Of Joy, BuzzFeed, June 20
Sara 
Barnes, Powerful Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals Who Were Allowed to Gros Old, My Modern Met, June 18
Mary Jo Dilonardo, A beautiful thing happens when farm animals are ‘Allowed to Grow Old, Mother Nature Network, June 12
Melissa Breyer, Portraits of rescued farm animals allowed to grow old, treehugger, June 11
Per Asbjørn Risnes, Husdyrene som fikk lov til å leve livet utA-magasinet in Aftenposten, pg. 36-42, May 31
Ellyn Kail, Poignant Photos of Rescued Farm Animals in Their Twilight Years, feature shoot, May 30
Ines Kaffka, Tiere auf Gnadenhöfen, Spiegel, May 28, 2019
Marc Bekoff Ph.D., Allowed to Grow Old: Radiant Portraits of Elderly Animals, Psychology Today, May 24, 2019
Victoria Moran, Isa Leshko and Benjamin Davis, Main Street Vegan Podcast, May 22
Steve Morello, Animal Photography — Wild and with Respect, B&H Photography Podcast, interview
Patricia Lenihan, Photographing dignity: Isa Leshko’s “Allowed to Grow Old”, Pasatiempo, May 3
Aline Smithson, Isa leshko: Allowed to Grow Old, Lenscratch, May 2
Michael Enright, Portraits of elderly farm animals explore existential questions about animals, and about ourselves, Sunday Edition, CBC, May 1
Sandra Danicke, Kunst Für Eine Bessere Welt: Portäts Alter TiereArt – Das Kunstmagazin, pg 16-17, May
Blouin Art Info, The Farm Where Animals are Allowed to Grow Old, February 13
Richard Benson, Put Out to Grass: When Animals Are Allowed to Grow Old, The Guardian, February 10

2016
Elizabeth Cherry, The Pig That Therefore I Am’: Visual Art and Animal Activism, Humanity & Society 40, no. 1, pg. 73, 80

2015
Mark Feeney, At the PRC, 13 Ways of Looking at the World, The Boston Globe, June 25
Theresa Mangum, Isa Leshko’s ‘Elderly Animals’: Art, Age, Animals, and Us, No More Potlucks, October
Stephanie Talmadge, The eerie terror of amusement parks, The Week
Studio Views: Isa Leshko, Artsake Blog, Massachusetts Cultural Council, January 12

2014
Ellyn Ruddick-Sunstein, Heartbreaking, Beautiful Images of Elderly Animals, Beautiful/Decay, January 30
Incredible Black-And-White Photos Of Elderly Animals Will Break Your Heart, HuffPost Arts & Culture, January 15
Lori Gruen, The Ethics of Captivity, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, May, p. 238

2013
Rachel Nuwer, This Photographer Captures the Beauty and Dignity of Elderly Animals, Smithsonian Magazine Blog, November 7
Going, Going, Going Viral: Isa Leshko, Elderly Animals, Lenscratch Fine Art Photography Daily, October 2

2012
Elderly Animals: Photographs by Isa Leshko (video), Walley Films, November
Readings, Harper’s, May
Collaboration-HCP, Fraction Magazine, May
Amy Shearn, Age Like an Animal, The Oprah Blog, Oprah.com, May 11
Kellam Ayres, Isa Leshko’s ‘Elderly Animals’, New England Review, April 12
When animals age: Poignant photo portraits captured, Today.com/MSNBC, March 7
Andrew Sullivan, Face of the Day, The Dish, March 4
Marlene Fanta Shyer, A Look at Aging Through Animals, AARP Bulletin, March 14
Andi Vollmer, Touching Portraits of Aging Farm Animals, Feature Shoot February 28
Susan Burnstine, American Connection, Black + White Photography, February
Von Richard Friebe, Altern ist nichts für Feiglinge, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, January 15, page 59
Julia Whitty, A Meditation on Elderly Animals, Mother Jones, January 12
Allan Turner, Camera Reveals Complexity of Aging Animals, Houston Chronicle, January 5

2011
Anahad O’Connor, What We Can Learn From Old Animals, The New York Times, December 29
Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, Isa Leshko’s Extraordinary Photographs of Elderly Animals, The Atlantic, December 2
Claire O’Neill, To Cope With Her Mother’s Illness, Photographer Focuses On Aging Animals, NPR Photo Blog, November 30
Peter Praschl, Ciao, du Sau, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, June 10, 2011 pages 22-24
Beautiful Elderly Animals, My Modern Metropolis, June 6
Rachel Saslow, Elderly Animal Photos, The Washington Post, May, 9, 2011, page E3
Killian Fox, Isa Leshko’s Elderly Animals: there’s life in the old dog yet, The Guardian, April 24
Emily Temple, Gorgeous Photographs of Elderly Animals, Flavorwire, April 16
Yalçın Pembecioglu, Yaslı Hayvanlar, bigumigu.com, April 15
Photos of Elderly Animals, Boing Boing, April 15
Amber Terranova, Isa Leshko: Elderly Animals (10 photos), PDN Photo of the Day blog, April 8
Isa Leshko, Thrills and Chills, Zoom Magazine, pg. 105-106, winter issue

2010
Best of the Best Emerging Fine Art Photographers of 2010, BWGallerist: Black and White Photography, December
Stephen Perloff (editor), Brian Paul Clamp (juror), The Photo Review Competition Issue (Andy Adams (editor), Flak Photo of the Day, Flak Photo, October 14
Roberta Fallon, Groups of documentary photos from the fringe fit right in at Gallery 339, Philadelphia Weekly, August 10
Hamidah Glasgow (editor), Isa Leshko, Portfolio Showcase Volume 4, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO, May, pages 88-95
Isa Leshko at John Cleary Gallery, John Cleary Gallery Blog, May 19
Isa Leshko, Thrills & Chills (Exhibition Catalog), Exit 12 Press, Houston, TX, April
Mark Feeney, Flashes of Brilliance, The Boston Globe, April 30, Section G, page 21
Mark Feeney, When Busby Met Fritz, Movie Nation (blog), April 29
Claire O’Neill, A Photographer, A Holga, and Roller Coasters, The Picture Show (blog)
www.NPR.org, April 21
David Bram (editor), Isa Leshko, Fraction Magazine, Issue 12, March

2009
Jane Tam, A Conversation with Isa Leshko, Nymphoto (blog), December 31
Aline Smithson, Isa Leshko, Lenscratch (blog), December 18
Susan Burnstine (editor), Isa Leshko Guest Gallery, Filmwasters.com, December
Lightleaks, Issue 14, August, page 23
F-Stop Magazine, Issue 36, August, Cover Image and Group Exhibit Emerging Artist, Isa Leshko, Four Corners Dark (blog), May 26 (Lightleaks, Issue 2, March 2006, page 17

Press Release
2019 Allowed to Grow Old at Richard Levy Gallery

2013 Elderly Animals at Richard Levy Gallery

2011 Thrills and Chills at Richard levy Gallery