A COUNTRY NO MORE: REDISCOVERING THE LANDSCAPES OF JOHN JAMES AUDUBON
A Country No More:
Rediscovering the Landscapes of John James Audubon
By Krista Elrick
Essays by Gregory Nobles
and Mary Anne Redding
In 2010, when photographer Krista Elrick began traversing John James Audubon country in search of the birds the nineteenth-century American naturalist observed, painted, and wrote about, she encountered scarcely a sighting. Instead, she found the lushly forested watersheds and waterways that Audubon had passionately described in his journals vastly altered with many of the bird species extinct, their supporting habitat all but disappeared. Industrial buildings, parking lots, and strip malls had overtaken much of the area, edging out the natural world.
Vintage Hasselblad film camera in hand, she traveled for 10 years and over 45,000 miles as she sought clues to what had happened to these places and to the animals––and peoples––that had once lived there. Starting in Mill Grove, near Philadelphia, she retraced Audubon’s journeys to the bluffs of Cincinnati overlooking the Ohio River, to Henderson, Kentucky, to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, to Natchez, Mississippi, St. Francisville and New Orleans, Louisiana, to Charleston, South Carolina, to St. Augustine and Key West, Florida, to the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, and, finally, to Audubon’s gravesite in the Trinity Church Cemetery in New York City.
She responded to his paintings of birds that had been constructed with backdrops from a variety of locales by creating collages of her own black-and-white images of the regions she traveled through. She pored over historic bank notes, period maps, and other ephemera that yielded fascinating insights into the changes and the resulting effects on the natural world and its species, as well as on the lives of the Native American and African American populations that had occupied the areas.
In her research she also discovered that Audubon himself was something of an enigma, a fabulist who told conflicting stories about his own history and identity. The result is a fascinating compendium that gives us a fresh and provocative perspective on Audubon, the man, his times, and his legacy.
Krista Elrick has been an exhibiting artist and activist for more than three decades. A Country No More: Rediscovering the Landscapes of John James Audubon is her first solo book. Several of the collages she created for this project are featured in a solo exhibition entitled “Retracing Audubon,” currently at Brushwood Center, and which has previously been exhibited at Northlight Gallery in Tempe, Arizona, in 2019, Turchin Gallery at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina in 2021. Elrick’s work has appeared in other books including Imagine a City that Remembers: The Albuquerque Rephotographic Project, by Anthony Anella and Mark Childs (University of New Mexico Press, 2018); Grasslands / Separating Species, with photographs by Dana Fritz, David Taylor, Jo Whaley and Michael Berman, and essays by Mary Anne Redding, William deBuys, and Rebecca Solnit (Radius Books 2010), and which was published in conjunction with an exhibition at 516 ARTS in Albuquerque; and Through the Lens Creating Santa Fe (Museum of New Mexico Press 2009), which she co-edited with Mary Anne Redding. Elrick lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Winner of the 2022 Bronze IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Award) for Best Book of the Year in the Nature category.
FOREWORD REVIEW’S 2021 INDIES SILVER MEDAL for Best Coffee Table Book
Hardcover. 256 pages. Published July 27, 2021 by George F Thompson Publishing.
12.4 x 1.3 x 10.3 inches