Emma Kisiel’s blog, Muybridge’s Horse, features photography that explores the relationship between humans and animals. The collection includes the work of artists like Charlotte Dumas, Simen Johan, Chris Jordan, Lindsay Blatt and dozens of others, offering a wide-ranging look at the varied ways photographers and artists working in other media depict animals and the natural world. For Kisiel, the blog has provided an opportunity to connect with other artists who share her interests, and to grow her understanding of contemporary art and the possibilities for her own work.
“Working on Muybridge’s Horse has opened my eyes to such innovative ways of image-making and storytelling,” Kisiel told PDN via email. “I also love seeing how many artists who explore animal life (or death) in their art are women. I know how male-dominated the photography field can feel sometimes.”
Muybridge’s Horse, named for Eadweard Muybridge’s “Horse in Motion” photographs, which he made in 1878, grew from a personal blog Kisiel kept as a photography student at the Maryland Institute College of Art. On it, she indexed all types of work that interested her. Eventually she “noticed that artists who work with animal and nature subject matter dominated the blog,” Kisiel says.
After Kisiel graduated and began working in a field unrelated to art, she pursued the blog as a “creative outlet.” She worked with a developer friend to create Muybridge’s Horse, and emailed all of the artists whose work she’d posted on her personal blog as a student. “Many responded with comments that they couldn’t believe a site like this hadn’t existed yet,” Kisiel says. She launched it in early 2013, hoping to reach “students, artists, curators, animal lovers—anyone seeking pictures that affect them.”
Kisiel generally finds images on Tumblr, by following RSS feeds of other art publications like Lenscratch and iGNAT, and through submissions. Artists also often recommend other people for Kisiel to feature. She worried at one point that she would run out of subject matter, but adds, “I currently have over 100 posts in my queue, so I’m not worried right now.”
Through her work on the blog, she’s received support from other photographers, has developed friendships, and has met artists with whom she’s corresponded.
It’s also altered her thinking about her own work. “I am much more challenged to create photographs that matter,” she says. “I am a proponent of looking at and being very aware of contemporary photography if you’re a photographer yourself, and I have felt humbled and inspired by the discovery of the artists I feature.”
Kisiel says that she’s struggled at times to find a sense of community as an artist, but that Muybridge’s Horse has provided that. “I have mixed feelings about the internet, the way it changes how people and artists act and interact, but watching artists lift each other up and exist as a part of a unique network has been encouraging as an artist working today.”