Gay Leonhardt, "Expanding Field", 2009, archival pigment print, 20x15”

Gay Leonhardt, “Expanding Field”, 2009, archival pigment print, 20×15”

Expanding Field, 2009, archival pigment print, 20×15”

Gay Leonhardt

Recreational use in the outdoors is often accompanied by the slogan, “Take nothing; Leave nothing”. “Taking” photographs does not remove anything tangible from the land, but my images appropriate the preserved lands & transform them. To the degree that photographs have sometimes been perceived as taking some aspect of a person’s soul, I visited the land every morning for months seeking the soul of that landscape and then I erased some of it.

There is an inherent irony in the erasure of portions of photographs of lands that are preserved in “perpetuity” and the manipulation of computer inks that are guaranteed to last over time and be “archival”. I am interested in the connections between the language of easement contracts and the mental “taking” of scenic vistas, fields, and woods that are loved and enjoyed by the public.

An alumna of Cornell University, Gay Leonhardt (Willow, NY) has worked in assemblage, watercolor, photography, and digital art since 1980. Leonhardt often incorporates text in her visual art and vice versa. Beginning in 1983, she began publishing artist’s books such as “My Laundry and My Life or My Life in My Laundry” (1993) and “This Year’s Summation” (1995).
Leonhardt has pursued an art career outside of the marketplace through installation and guerilla art. She co-founded the Floating Gallery, which mounted shows in supermarkets, on storefronts, beaches, and in other public arenas. Her generalist approach has included numerous collaborations across a variety of disciplines. In 1996, Leonhardt worked in theater with Sigrid Heath to create seven-foot-tall charcoal figures that became characters for a play. From 1997 to 1998, she collaborated with Richard Edelman to shoot and manipulate a series of photographs which were shown at the Kleinert/James Art Center, Woodstock, NY; the SUNY/Westchester Gallery, Valhalla, NY; the Digital Salon at the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY; and the Circule De Bellas Artes in Madrid. Her work has been shown at galleries in upstate New York, including Women’s Studio Workshop, Rosendale, NY; Donskoj & Co., Kingston, NY; and the Center for Photography, Woodstock, NY.