The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston is proud to announce their first exhibition of the 2018-2019 season

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The Image Hunter: On the Trail of John James Audubon. The exhibition will be on view from Friday, Aug. 17 to Saturday, Sept. 29 with a public opening reception on Friday, Aug. 24 at 6:30 p.m. The galleries are open to the public and admission is free.

The Image Hunter: On the Trail of John James Audubon features new work by the Italian artist Hitnes. The exhibition and its related programming have been developed as a special research initiative by the Halsey Institute given the primacy of Charleston to Audubon’s legacy.

In the early half of the nineteenth century, John James Audubon spent decades tracking birds and drawing them, hoping to create a compendium of all of the birds in the United States. Charleston played an important role in Audubon’s work as he kept a studio in the home of his friend and fellow naturalist John Bachman. Audubon hunted for specimens on the Sea Islands off of Charleston’s coast, and he even included the city’s distinctive skyline from the 1830s – replete with its church steeples – in his drawing of the long-billed curlew.

Nearly two hundred years later, the Italian painter and muralist holding the moniker 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 observed, sketched, and painted what he saw, creating an updated visual documentation of Audubon’s birds.

Hitnes’s exhibition will document his journey, elaborating on what it is that drives a person to dedicate multiple decades of their life to pursuing an obsession like Audubon did. The exhibition will feature a range of work informed by his own expedition, and he will include other objects and ephemera collected on his trek including his sketchbooks and the clothes he wore. The exhibition will also be accompanied by a feature-length documentary film on Hitnes’s trip, directed by filmmaker Giacomo Agnetti. Hitnes was an artist-in-residence at the Halsey Institute in the summer of 2017 and returned for a second residency in the summer of 2018.

Born in Rome, where he currently lives and works, Hitnes is a painter and muralist. A frequent traveler, Hitnes has completed residencies in countries including China, Australia, Mexico, Russia, Norway, Colombia, and the United States. His work has been featured in venues around the globe, including the Instituto Italiano di Cultura, New York; Museo Civico di Zoologia, Rome; 999contemporary, Rome; and Fifty24MX, Mexico City, among others.

Art and biodiversity have a unique rapport in Hitnes’ paintings. His name is invented, as are most of the animals he illustrates: species that do not exist in the real world. Expressing his talent through various techniques – from graffiti to illustration and fine art – Hitnes is a modern incarnation of the true Renaissance man. Since 2012 he has taught screen-printing courses at Rome’s European Institute of Design (IED), as well as workshops in muralism, including a masterclass in Adelaide, Australia.


All events are free and open to the public and take place at the Halsey Institute’s galleries unless otherwise noted.

Opening Reception

Friday, August 24, 6:30PM – 8:00PM

Artist Talk

Saturday, August 25, 2:00PM

Birds, Beidler, and Banding

A trip to the Francis Beidler Forest with Audubon South Carolina

Sunday, September 16, 8:00AM – 10:30AM

Francis Beidler Forest, Harleyville, SC 29448

Registration is limited, tickets required.

Halsey Talks: Street Art

Tuesday, September 18, 6:30PM

Family Day! for The Image Hunter

Saturday, September 22, 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Free for all Halsey Institute members

Curator-led Tour

Thursday, September 27, 6:00PM

Free for all Halsey Institute members