At Rest is a photographic series depicting roadkill on American highways and addressing our human fear of confronting death and viewing the dead. My images draw attention to the fact that, while man has a vast impact on animal and natural life, dominant American religions insist that animals do not have a place in Heaven and are, therefore, of little value in our society. To cause the viewer to feel struck by this truth, I photograph memorials I have built surrounding roadkill at the location at which its life was taken. At Rest expresses the sacredness to the bodies of animals accidentally hit by vehicles while crossing the road.
By surrounding the subject with living and fake flowers and stone markers, I elevate the often ignored and overlooked dead animal to the level of a human being and impart the beautiful grace of their fallen bodies. My photographs convey the sublime, the grotesque, and the lure of the macabre; we can hardly bear the visual of death, yet we cannot tear our eyes away.
While working, I assume a practice similar to attending a funeral or visiting a grave. Quietly and peacefully, I assemble a memorial around the animal, considering shape, form, texture, and color. All planes in the images in At Rest are in focus, referring to the sacredness of all things. The lighting is natural; the warming light of the sun is an important factor in my roadkill grave setups. My animal subjects are not moved or altered. They are happened upon, visited with, remembered, and left to return to nature.
Emma Kisiel holds a bachelor of fine arts with an emphasis in photography from the University of Colorado Denver. She was awarded the Photography Department Recognition, Trustee, and Academic Honors Scholarships at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and her work has been featured online at Design-Freak, Design For Mankind, ShareSomeCandy, RootSpeak, Lenscratch, and Esquire Magazine, Russian edition. Kisiel’s work focuses extensively on the human influence on animal life and documents her physical closeness to animals, both living and dead.