Isa Leshko, a talented photographer from Pennsylvania in the U.S., has found a unique and touching way to explore her own fear of old age and death. For her Elderly Animal project, she set out to take intimate and tender portraits of various domestic and farm animals in the winter years of their lives.
Leshko became interested in the project after seeing her own mother pass away. In her artist’s statement, she wrote, “I began this series shortly after I had spent a year in New Jersey helping my sister care for our mom who has Alzheimer’s disease. The experience had a profound impact on me and forced me to confront my own mortality.”
She also writes that she spends a lot of time with the animals in order to get closer to them. “Depending on the animal, I may spend an hour or so simply lying on the ground next to the creature before I take a single image. This approach helps the animal acclimate to my presence and it allows me to observe the animal without being focused on picture taking,” she writes.
Besides exploring her own fear of old age and of geriatric mental disabilities, the photo series has also given her the opportunity to express her ideas about the treatment of animals. “By depicting the beauty and dignity of these creatures in their later years, I want to encourage people to question and challenge the way farm animals are currently treated.”