Museum  August 21, 2018  Megan D Robinson

A 21st Century Journey “On the Trail of John James Audubon”

Courtesy Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

Hitnes, Wood Duck (Dance for Nola), 2017. Watercolor and graphite on paper in wooden frame.

Two hundred years after Audubon traveled across America, tracking native bird species for his magnum opus, The Birds of America (1827–39), Italian artist Hitnes has retraced Audubon's steps, creating an updated documentation of the birds Audubon painted. His homage to Audubon, The Image Hunter: On the Trail of John James Audubon, is now on display at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston.

Courtesy Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

Hitnes, Pelican (The Dinosaur), 2017. Watercolor and graphite on paper in wooden frame.

Inspired by Audubon’s original watercolors, Hitnes created The Image Hunter project. This entailed travelling through 15 states, from Florida to Ohio, creating sketches, paintings, and large-scale murals of the birds he saw. The exhibition includes objects and ephemera collected along Hitnes’s journey, and features 15 plexiglass shadowboxes with multi-segmented compartments, along with 53 small, copper-plate etchings Hitnes used to create his own miniature book, Fragments of The Birds of America. Hitnes’s multi-dimensional shadowboxes reference Audubon’s iconic work, while adding layers of information about the birds’ ecosystems, eating habits and history. A feature-length documentary film on Hitnes’s trip, directed by filmmaker Giacomo Agnetti, will also be on view.

Hitnes, Osprey, 2017
Courtesy Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

Hitnes, Osprey, 2017. Watercolor and graphite on paper in wooden frame.

Hitnes, Fish Crow (Cow Caw Cow Cow), 2017
Courtesy Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

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

Hitnes, Barn Owl (One thing done well, only one), 2017
Courtesy Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

Hitnes, Barn Owl (One thing done well, only one), 2017. Watercolor and graphite on paper in wooden frame.

Hitnes, Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Quick! Everywhere), 2017
Courtesy Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

Hitnes, Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Quick! Everywhere), 2017. Watercolor and graphite on paper in wooden frame.

Hitnes, American Redstart (Story of a Birdwatcher), 2017
Courtesy Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art

Hitnes, American Redstart (Story of a Birdwatcher), 2017. Watercolor and graphite on paper in wooden frame.

Born in 1982, Hitnes is a prominent street artist, muralist and freelance illustrator, best known for nature-inspired public murals. Born in Rome into a family of scientists, Hitnes has been fascinated with nature from a young age. A world traveler with murals in Europe, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and China, Hitnes’s work has been featured in venues around the globe.

The Image Hunter: On the Trail of John James Audubon is on view through Saturday, September 29th. There is an opening reception Friday, August 24th at 6:30PM. The galleries are open to the public and admission is free.

About the Author

Megan D Robinson

Megan D Robinson writes for Art & Object and the Iowa Source.