In her ABUNDANCE series, Courtney M. Leonard examines non-animal bodies by exhibiting the lack of their representation in the pieces. The series, part of a larger work titled BREACH, is resultant and in response to environmental pollution of waterways and the impact that has had on the natural world—specifically, the impact that it has had on Indigenous food sources like fish. The works themselves, sculptures constructed from clay, are reminiscent of basketry. “These forms are inspired by indigenous fish baskets and the complexity of the idea of ceramics as a fragile material in similarity to our fragile environment,” says Leonard. By linking the materiality of the ceramic with the fragility of the environment, the artist enforces a meta narrative, one that emphasizes a return to and practice of Indigenous knowledge systems.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
COURTNEY M. LEONARD
Shinnecock, b. 1980
Courtney M. Leonard is a Shinnecock artist and filmmaker whose work explores marine biology, Indigenous food sovereignty, migration and human environmental impact. Leonard’s current projects articulate the multiple definitions of the term “BREACH” and investigate and document Indigenous communities’ historical ties to water, marine life and native cultures of subsistence. In collaboration with national and international museums, embassies, cultural institutions and local Indigenous communities in North America, New Zealand and Nova Scotia, Leonard’s practice centers around narratives of cultural viability and the relationship between Indigenous people and the environmental record. Leonard’s work is in the permanent collections of the United States Art In Embassies Program, the Crocker Art Museum, the Heard Museum, the ASU Art Museum and Ceramic Research Center, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Newark Museum, the Weisman Art Museum, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of the North, the Mystic Seaport Museum, the Pomona Museum of Art, the Hood Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Autry Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Leonard has received numerous awards, fellowships and residencies from the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation, the United States Art In Embassies Program, and the Native Arts and Culture Foundation.