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Following in the Footsteps of Audubon’s The Birds of America

Italian artist Hitnes retraces the steps of John James Audubon at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.

Hitnes, Fish Crow (Cow Caw Cow Cow), 2017 (detail), Watercolor and graphite on paper in wooden frame.

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston is pleased to present the exhibition The Image Hunter: On the Trail of John James Audubon, featuring new work by the Italian artist Hitnes. The exhibition is a culmination of The Image Hunter project, in which Hitnes retraced Audubon’s travels in the United States and created work during a residency in Charleston, SC.

John James Audubon spent the early decades of the nineteenth century tracking birds and drawing them with the goal of creating a compendium of all of the birds in the United States. Nearly two hundred years later, painter and muralist Hitnes embarked on a twenty-city road trip to retrace and rediscover the America that Audubon traversed in the making of his opus The Birds of America (1827–39).

Traveling along Audubon’s exploratory routes, Hitnes sketched and painted what he saw, creating an updated visual documentation of the birds Audubon painted. On view is the documentation of the journey, natural history specimens from The Charleston Museum, 15 shadowboxes of acrylic and watercolors of the birds Hitnes encountered on his journey, selected sketchbooks, 53 tiny copperplate etchings and a full-sized reproduction of Audubon’s The Birds of America. Included in the shadowboxes are ephemera Hitnes collected while in the field searching for and drawing the birds.

With the environmental and social changes over the past century plus, Hitnes’s artworks document the loss of some species, the threatened status of others, and the new state of the ecosystem for others.

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The Image Hunter: On the Trail of John James Audubon continues at The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston through September 29, 2018.