Elise Kirk

Elise Kirk studied documentary film at Columbia College Chicago (BA ’00), investigated representations of the family in Spanish cinema on a Fulbright grant in Madrid (’01), and completed her MFA in photography at Rhode Island School of Design (’15).  She is from the Midwest, though she can’t quite tell you what qualities make her a Midwesterner, or even where the borders of the Midwest lie.  Elise is fascinated with familial relationships (both inherited and constructed), mythologies of place, and the impermanence of all of the above.





I come from the middle of the country, down my own inner road between two households, where I grew up surrounded by a groundedness I couldn’t quite touch.

Now I lap the nation in pursuit of an unreachable landing pad, and the middle stays with me like an anchor — a secure attachment to a Midwest myth of agrarian rootedness. Yet in my travels I encounter a different view of the region. For many, the middle states are no potential rooting ground but a place to be passed through on the way to another in our restless search for greatness.


Mid— resides in this intersection: between pulling up stakes and putting down roots, between desire and hesitation, movement and stasis. Here, interstate highways speed travelers and truckers past the homesteads and farm towns that have sustained kinships for time immemorial. A billboard alongside this interior stretch cries for the passerby’s attention. It’s more than an exit. It’s a trip












To view more of Elise Kirk’s work, please visit her website.

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