Elise Kirk

Elise Kirk is a photofilmic artist and educator concerned with human nature in an ecological world and how we construct meaning, particularly with our environments.

She was raised in middle Missouri, studied film at Columbia College Chicago and on a U.S. Fulbright award in Madrid, and completed her MFA in photography at the Rhode Island School of Design.

“I work in long-form projects, generally over months or years, and am particularly interested in how images speak to each other in sequence to create new meanings and understandings.”

Photo of Elise Kirk
Photo of Elise Kirk

“As a photographic artist, my work involves being out in and engaging with the world.”

Artwork titled "Greenwood"
Artwork titled “Greenwood”

Kirk spent her formative years in rural isolation in the Midwestern backwoods. Called to the city as a young woman, she found remarkable comfort in being surrounded by people. Urban greenspaces became sites for both social encounters and shared solitude.

“Lying in the grass, eyes closed, the hum of lives around me, I could be transported to a preconscious sense of security. Public spaces are critical to physical and mental health; seeing others and sharing experience is fundamental to being human. But in early 2020, along with the world, I was forced back into isolation.”

Kirk’s process begins intuitively, then calls for reflection, research, and deliberate intent to complete a project. She explains that the work shown in Sharing Space was done in the summer of 2021 when the world was reopening and when she returned to New York, her adopted city of nearly a decade—revisiting the parks and open spaces that had once made her feel at home.

“I was drawn to private moments enacted in public. Here, people carve out intimate corners for vulnerability—sleeping or daydreaming—under the sound cover of shared space.”

Artwork titled "Williamsburg Waterfront"
Artwork titled “Williamsburg Waterfront”

“Hiding in plain sight, our experience is made visible again.”

Photo of Elise Kirk in her studio
Photo of Elise Kirk in her studio

Kirk plans to continue making this work in urban greenspaces beyond New York. She is also working on a body of work in New York around Newtown Creek, an estuary and superfund site separating Brooklyn and Queens.

Immediately before the pandemic shutdown, Kirk was accepted into an artist residency at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing and Xiamen, China, and was awarded a Lighton International Artist Exchange Program (LIAEP) Award to fund her travel and work.

Unfortunately, this project has been postponed repeatedly due to Covid, but she hopes to be able to participate in the residency in 2023.

  • For more information on Elise Kirk and her work visit her Website and Instagram!
  • Also, to learn more about the Sharing Space exhibition and its artists visit our Sharing Space Page!

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