Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Announces 2018 National Artist Fellowships Shinnecock Indian Nation Member Courtney M. Leonard among winners 1/31/2018

Press Release

Grantee:  Courtney M. Leonard
Native Citizenship:  Shinnecock
Location:  Santa Fe, New Mexico
Award:  2018 National Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Visual Arts
Web Site:
Facebook:  Courtney.M.Leonard.Art

Ceramicist and multimedia artist Courtney M. Leonard is a member of the Shinnecock Nation of Long Island, New York—a community with historic, cultural ties to whales, water, and material sustainability—recurring themes throughout her extensive body of internationally acclaimed work.

Through her large-scale video/audio/photographic installations, Leonard explores and documents the multiple definitions of “breach”. She believes it is vital for artists to exchange with communities and honor such connections through inclusion and recognition, a foundation which has led her to travel and dialogue extensively with coastal indigenous communities regarding their sustenance harvesting traditions and rights. Her multimedia installations challenge their audience to question and respond: Can a culture sustain itself when it no longer has access to the environment that fashioned its culture?

Leonard earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Ceramics from Rhode Island School of Design. She received a Best of Division in Sculpture from Eiteljorg Indian Market in 2011 and exhibits internationally.

As a part of my practice I fully understand that everyone that has become a part of the work and deserves to be heard, recognized, and honored in the ways they advise.

Courtney M. Leonard

“Breach: Scrimshaw Study – The Path We Share” by Courtney M. Leonard, 2016. Coiled from clay from the desert, micaceous clay, the Path We Share Series are allusions to the art of scrimshaw, which was a popular pastime of whalers from between 1745 and 1759 until the ban on commercial whaling. Image courtesy the artist.

“Breach: Sustenance #2” by Courtney M. Leonard, 2016. The majority of whales killed per year (over 60%) are struck by shipping boats. BREACH #2 is an account of one whale. About 48-60 teeth or the representation of the lower jaw of one sperm whale shipped and ready on a pallet. Image courtesy the artist.

“Breach: Artifice Installation” by Courtney Leonard, 2015. Mixed Media installation of both sculptural hand built ceramic pieces and raw clay architecturally referencing our traditional thatched homes and the idea of our territory of and Long Island, NY being covered by water. Image courtesy the artist.