Pictura Gallery

Single Image Crush | Elise Kirk

July 21, 2022


Elise Kirk photographs moments that are troublingly serene, quiet scenes that start to burn. In literal terms, if she photographs a burning car, it is shown from a respectful distance on an ordinary street, with an odd calm hovering over the scene. The urgent situation is presented in subtle terms.

In her project Groundswell, Kirk traces a stretch of the Missouri River during a period of historic flooding. The figure in this image is a young woman; she looks to be in middle school, and I find myself thinking about her future. At this distance, things feel metaphorical. The road ahead is closed, but she’s drawn to it. Maybe she’s just there to take in the strangeness of disaster. Or maybe it’s a peaceful place to get away. Her reflection is already wading into the flood.

I admire Kirk’s vision, what she attends to, the subtlety of the light in her imagery, and the veracity these things lend her pictures. The everyday stories in Groundswell imprint on me the reality of the current ecological change, in a way no iceberg can seem to do.

-Lisa Woodward