When speaking with ceramic and mixed media artist Courtney M. Leonard, I can't help but feel a tidal rhythm in her story, a knowing, a conscious patterning of learning and teaching, as if a map is being drawn up through the conversation, a reminder that all things are connected, and to be aware of the connection points. By relating greatly to the ocean in her work, which has sustained her people for generations, Leonard gives us an opportunity to look deeper at our natural world, and remember to listen to nature. Leonard's work opens a vital conversation about the environment, and our impact on it, but never in a forceful way. When first engaging with the art of Courtney M. Leonard, a conversation begins in pure abstraction, delicate patterning, line and color, a dream story. But upon learning Leonard's journey and experiences, it becomes apparent there is an urgency within her work. A story mapped out through the various forms and lines, connecting one image to another, and layered in context and concept. The viewer is not told what to see, but invited to look deeper, to see further, to engage with the environment and remember how to think critically about the world we are a part of.
In this episode of Art Beat Conversations, artist Courtney M. Leonard shares with us her journey through education and the various tools for connection and growth she has collected along her path as the artist. We also learn about her travels in Aotearoa and the many inspiring people who weave together her story and continue to inspire her work and world.
Here is the conversation with the intensely hardworking and inspiring indigenous artist, Courtney M. Leonard.
More about the artist:
Courtney M. Leonard from the Shinnecock Nation of Long Island, New York. Leonard's work explores the evolution of language, image and culture through various mixed media pieces, woven together with an asthtetic that seems to map an experience of the world she has experienced. She studied art and museum studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts (AFA 2000), Alfred University (BFA 2002), and the Rhode Island School of Design (MFA 2008). She currently lives in Santa Fe, NM and works as a professional artist and educator.