• Visiting artist explores Arctic connections by EllaMarie Quimby on November 22, 2016 - Sun Star

    Leonard’s interest in cultural sustainability extends inevitably to dealing with sources of food. Her ceramic work produced during this residency has revisited methods that she’s used in previous years, while tying in experiences from her stay in Alaska.

    One body of work consists of carefully woven ceramic traps, formed from coiled clay mixed with fiber. These traps recall work she showed in Arizona earlier in 2016, clay shaped into the type of net baskets used to collect and carry fish.

    When discussing the new ceramic traps, she recalled large metal cages that she saw in Barrow, once used by natural resource scientists to trap and tag large land mammals, as well as the shape of the construction cranes along the water in Anchorage. The rigid shapes of these newer works contrast sharply the organic, softer ones of her previous work." -Read More

  • Navigating the Recent Wave of Renegade Seafaring in Art by Allison Meier on July 1, 2016 - Hyperallergic

    "The vessel, with its shambly exterior of rough wood, was mostly neighbored by Long Island yachts. But just up the street a whaling museum — its entrance framed by whale bones — and a weather-worn cemetery populated with departed whaling captains are reminders that this area was once economically dependent on the ocean. At the Parrish, a wooden pallet is heaped with iridescent sperm whale teeth formed from clay by Courtney M. Leonard. A member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation — which has long been based on Long Island — Leonard offers another perspective on the history of whaling, underlining how quickly it took its toll on the whale populations, reducing the huge animals to scraps of bone and fuel." - Read More

  • When Artists Take To The Sea, All The World’s A Canvas by Beth Young on May 29, 2016 - East End Beacon

    Courtney M. Leonard, who is a member of the Shinnecock Nation, has long been exploring those fraught relationships — between native and non-native people, between native people and their traditional hunting practices, and between all people and the natural balance of the world.

    Ms. Leonard’s contribution to Radical Seafaring is “Breach #2,” an assemblage of glazed ceramic whale teeth on a pallet, as if awaiting shipping.

    She began working on that theme after a whale washed up in front of Calvin Klein’s property next door to the Shinnecock Indian Nation, where members of the tribe weren’t able to harvest it.

    The Shinnecocks, whose name means “People of the Stony Shore,” had taught the colonists how to whale when they first arrived on the South Fork.

    Another of her pieces is a series of clay baskets, like the baskets traditionally used by the Shinnecocks to collect fish. She designed the baskets, which would be destroyed if they were to be used used, after the massive fish kill in the Peconic River last year.

    “Can a culture sustain itself when it no longer has access to the things that make it a culture?” she asked at Tideland Sessions. “That’s what my work explores.” Read More

  • Poetic and political by Katrina Montgomery - April 8, 2016 - ASU Now

    New ASU exhibition highlights ceramic work of Courtney M. Leonard
    April 8, 2016

    The word “breach” can be used in many different ways. Legally, “breach of contract” is the failure to observe an agreement. It can also mean a gap in a wall or barrier. Breach can also be used as a verb — especially when it comes to the act of a whale breaking the surface of water.

    Santa Fe-based artist Courtney M. Leonard grew up in the Shinnecock Nation of Long Island, New York, where culture historically revolved around whaling and water. Leonard’s exhibition “Breach: Log 16,” on view April 16 through Aug. 6 at the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center and Brickyard Gallery, is an exploration of historical ties to water and whale, imposed law and a current relationship of material sustainability. Artist Courtney M. Leonard's exhibition "Breach: Log 16" is an immersive multimedia exhibition that includes ceramics and video.

    This immersive multimedia exhibition includes a two-channel video installation that Leonard created during a unique art residency that occurred in 2015 on the Charles W. Morgan, a recently restored 1840’s whaling vessel based in Mystic, Connecticut. While on the boat, Leonard marveled not only at the intense hand-hewn physicality of the boat itself but also at the work routines of the sailors.

    “I began to focus on the hand movements of everyone rigging and started video recording these actions, focusing entirely on the hands of the individuals,” recalled Leonard. “Once I retuned to the studio, I began to realize that these movements of the hand are very similar to the movements and actions of the hand while shaping a clay coil.”

    Clay is essential to Leonard’s art. Her work is intensely crafted using a variety of techniques and natural clay drawn from Native American traditions, including the use of sparkling micaceous clay that is often used for cooking vessels. The ceramic work in “Breach: Log 16” makes reference to images and themes as diverse as whales’ teeth, scrimshaw and traditional indigenous fishing baskets. All of these relate to the sustainability and availability of water, but also to the sustainability of culture and tradition.

    Garth Johnson, ASU Art Museum curator of ceramics, selected Leonard as the first artist to mount a solo exhibition at the museum’s new Brickyard Gallery location.

    “Courtney M. Leonard is one of the strongest emerging voices in the field of ceramics today,” said Johnson. “Her art manages to be both poetic and political, and also simultaneously personal and universal. ‘Breach: Log 16’ is meticulously crafted to contain historical and cultural references, but also to make the viewer reflect on their own relationship with nature and sustainability.” Read More

  • IAIA Alumni Produces Prints for US Embassies - ICTMN - December, 11, 2015

    “For five decades, Art in Embassies (AIE) has played a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy through a focused mission of cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts and dynamic artist exchange,” reads a press release about the program.

    Since 2005, AIE has installed more than 58 permanent art collections in U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world.

    “Art in Embassies cultivates relationships that transcend boundaries, building trust, mutual respect and understanding among peoples,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry. “It is a fulcrum of America’s global leadership as we continue to work for freedom, human rights and peace around the world.”

    IAIA alumni artists chosen for this program include: Tony Abeyta, Navajo; Crystal Worl, Tlingit/Athabascan; Jeff Kahm, Plains Cree; Courtney Leonard, Shinnecock; and Dan Namingha, Tewa-Hopi. Read More

  • Art In Review: Courtney M. Leonard at MoCNA by Michael Abatemarco - October 24, 2014

    Most of the work in Level/Land, on view in the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts’ Lloyd Kiva New Gallery (located in the museum store) is informed by Shinnecock artist Courtney M. Leonard’s exploration of word meanings. Each piece is designated by a single-word title, playing off the multiple meanings of words in English.

    This show, one of the museum’s two interrelated exhibits of Leonard’s art, includes ceramics, mixed-media paintings, and jewelry. One particularly handsome installation, Sustenance, is a series of hand-painted ceramic vessels set in handcrafted wooden display cases. Its title appears to refer to drinking vessels or libations — perhaps some form of offering. But for Leonard, who decorates each vessel with maritime imagery, specifically whales, sustenance also refers to our dependence on natural resources; some of the pieces in Level/Land address our misuse of water and the effects of that on ecosystems and marine life. Read More

  • Dialogues in Indian artworks by Kathaleen Roberts - ABQJournal Nov. 24, 2013

    The word “conversation” echoes throughout Courtney Leonard’s vocabulary like a mantra.

    The Shinnecock Nation-raised, Rhode Island School of Design-educated artist explores the intersections of language, image and culture through ceramics, sculpture, painting and mixed-media. Her focus is to produce a dialogue between artist and viewer...

    Raised on the Shinnecock Reservation at the east end of Long Island, N.Y., Leonard’s work spans both cultures and geography. The reservation’s location near both the Hamptons and New York City brings the contrast between the various worlds into sharp relief. Viewers will see the classic blue and white of Dutch Delftware next to transfers of antique whale drawings. Coiled micaceous clay sculptures curve into the shape of whale’s teeth. A tall vase/seed pot bears the imprint of cord-marked Jomon, an ancient form of Japanese pottery, with indigenous seed holes dotting the lip. Its S-shape resembles an Etruscan vessel minus the handle....Read More

  • Dialog In the Arts 3

    Santa Fe, NM - Santa Fe Community College's School of Art and Design Visual Arts Gallery presents " Dialog in the Arts III: An Exhibition by Teachers and their Students," a selection of artwork by faculty and students from Santa Fe and New Mexico area high schools and colleges including the Masters Program charter school, the New Mexico School for the Arts, Rio Rancho Highschool, the Institute of American Indian Arts, the Santa Fe University of the Arts and Design and the SFCC. The exhiition runs from Dec. 2, 2011 through Jan. 23, 2012.

    From 4 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, SFCC's School of Arts and Design hosts a public panel discussion with participating students and faculty who will explore the creative process.

    Courtney M. Leonard is currently Adjunct Faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

  • Doll: An Intimate Figure NEW WORK

    Roxanne Swentzell Tower Gallery is exhibiting a new-curated exhibition by Rose B. Simpson. Doll; An Intimate Figure will run from November 26 through end of January 2012.
    Simpson’s curatorial statement describes the show;
    “An anthropomorphic plaything is a functional sculpture. In most of our lives, “art” has become a separate identity, something that exists in a separate realm than our everyday existence. Some of the last prominent experiences of a physical and intimate relationship to art were through the act of childhood imagination and play. Can we remember those experiences of creative functionality and apply them to objects of interaction for ourselves in the present?”
    The exhibition will be held on the third floor of the Roxanne Swentzell Tower Gallery.The main floor features many bronze and clay original works of renowned sculptor Roxanne Swentzell. Simpson, Roxanne’s daughter and recent Rhode Island School of Design graduate student, is curating this show of selected artists.
    Simpson explains more about her show; “I chose to curate this exhibition with artists in mind that I feel are creative and flexible enough to take on the specific subject of the exhibition. I am incredibly excited about the depth of potential that the talented communities of artists I belong to are capable of.”
    Artists include; Nora Naranjo-Morse, Roxanne Swentzell, Cannupa Hanska-Luger, Erika Wanenmacher, America Meredith, Tony Abeyta, Courtney Leonard, Eliza Naranjo-Morse, Mark Rice, Emilia Edwards, Fonda Yoshimoto, Penny Singer and Marla Allison to name a few.
    Located fifteen minutes north of Santa Fe and adjacent to the Poeh Museum on the Pueblo of Pojoaque,
    Doll, will be a personal communication of local and national artists all in one exhibition. - John Knoll

  • Cur·rent Car·ri·er

    Akus Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University
    January 27–March 10: Cur.rent Car.ri.er. Multimedia artist Courtney M. Leonard, a member of the Shinnecock Nation and recent graduate of RISD, explores the evolution of language, image, and culture through mixed-media pieces of video, audio, and tangible objects. She reinterprets traditional Shinnecock vessels, which act as the carriers of historical narrative through the present and on to the next generations. Artist gallery talk: February 10, 3–4 p.m. Reception: February 10, 5–7 p.m.
    83 Windham Street, Willimantic, CT
    (860) 465-4659
    petersonel@easternct.edu
    www.easternct.edu/akusgallery
    Tu–W 11–5, Th 1–7, Sa–Su 2–5

  • imagineNATIVE SCREENS LEONARDS' FILM IN TORONTO

    Art Without Reservations,Oct 15 2009, 1:00PM, Al Green Theatre - “Everything happens for a reason.” An artist explores meaning in the death of a finback whale, the repercussions it has on her Reservation, and how this experience manifests itself in her artwork. Q & A with Directors to Follow.

  • COURTNEY LEONARD AND SHINNECOCK FEDERAL RECOGNITION

    News Day - Article by Mark Harrington, Dec. 9, 2009--When rain falls as heavily as it did last Wednesday night, the rising waters of Shinnecock Bay creep toward Courtney Leonard's modest cabin on the south edge of the Shinnecock Indian Reservation.
    But if the Shinnecocks win federal recognition -- a decision that could come any day now-- the 29-year-old artist and filmmaker says she isn't sure she'd apply for housing aid that would become available with the tribe's improved status.
    Instead, she dreams of improving the collective quality of life on the reservation: She wants to open an art center where she can work and teach a next generation of artists like herself. click to read more

  • TRIBECA FILM INSTITUTE SCREENS LEONARDS' FILM - Q & A TO FOLLOW

    Tuesday, December 8th, 2009, 7-9pm, TRIBECA CINEMAS - Courtney Leonard's Untitled and Sally Kewayosh's Smoke Break

    Each film shares a different approach to stories told by or about Native culture. Filmmakers Courtney Leonard and Suzi Yoonessi will be in attendance to discuss their perspectives, following the screening.

  • COURTNEY LEONARD'S FILM DEBUTS IN NEW YORK CITY

    Smithsonian's NMAI, New York City, March 2009

    The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian announces today that the opening night film for the 14th Native American Film and Video Festival (NAFVF) in its 30th running year, will be the world premiere of “We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears” directed by Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho), on Thursday, Mar. 26, 2009 at 7 p.m. The screening will be introduced by Chris Eyre, executive producer Sharon Grimberg, and lead actor Wes Studi (Cherokee).

    This evening’s screening will be preceded by the New York Premiere of Courtney M. Leonard’s “Untitled.” Produced as part of ReelNative, a nation-wide community outreach video training project of the We Shall Remain series, this film presents how the death of a 60-foot finback whale on the shores of the Shinnecock Reservation in Long Island inspires a young artist to preserve the memory for future generations.The festival will run from Thursday, Mar. 26 through Sunday, Mar. 29 at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center.

    The screening is free and open to the public, but reservations are strongly suggested. For reservations, email fvc@si.edu or call (212) 514-3737.

  • COURTNEY LEONARD AND DUTCH CONTACT 1609

    Rogers Memorial Library
    Connecting Shards: Courtney Leonard
    Wednesday, April 29, 7:00 p.m.

    Shinnecock artist Courtney M. Leonard, working in clay, explores memory and language through the lens of her own
    personal narrative as a woman from the Shinnecock Indian Nation of Long Island. Her work, which underscores the history and influence between Dutch delftware and Algonquin pottery, mixes the “old” and "new" and affirms that tradition is not stagnant and that the past
    strengthens the present. Please join us for a visual presentation of her work.

    Contact 1609 Coming Soon!

    Staten Island Museum
    June 18, 2009 - January 10, 2010

    Timed to complement the international celebrations of the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson's year of entry to New York Harbor (September 11, 1609.) Courtney Leonard is one of seven contemporary artists chosen to interpret the early encounter between the Indigenous People of the Hudson River area and the Europeans.

  • COURTNEY M. LEONARD TO PRESENT AT EAST END ARTS COUNCIL

    The Essence of Three East End Arts Council Presents Courtney M. Leonard August 30 at 1pm

  • COURTNEY LEONARD TO EXHIBIT IN EASTHAMPTON

  • COURTNEY LEONARD INSTALLATION ON VIEW AT PEABODY MUSEUM

  • COURTNEY LEONARD RECIEVES FELLOWSHIP FROM COLLEGE ART ASSOCIATION

    CAA NAMES 2007 FELLOWS

    HONARABLE MENTION: COURTNEY M. LEONARD

    Leonard’s current work explores memory and language through her personal narrative as a woman from the Shinnecock Indian Nation of Long Island, New York. Believing that tradition is not stagnant and that the past strengthens the present, she embodies a mixture of the “old” and “new” in her work. Scheduled for May 2008, her MFA thesis exhibition, Connecting Shards, explores the unspoken history and
    influence between Dutch delftware and the Algonquin pottery of the Shinnecock. The artist fuses coats of monochromatic shades of blue, going beyond traditional delftware techniques in order to create her own visual language. If both the English and Dutch have delft, then this work opens the door to a new visual category: Shinnecock delftware.

    Leonard received her teaching certificate from Brown University’s Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning. For the past two years, she has taught courses such as “Hand Building” and “Wheel Throwing” at RISD. The founder of the ceramics program at the Art Farm, a summer camp in the Hamptons on Long Island, she teaches ceramics to children during the summer months, with an emphasis on expressing a
    broader care and concern for nature and animals through art.

    In fall 2007, Leonard presented a lecture “Connecting Shards: A Retrospective on Eastern Algonquin Pottery” to the International Ceramics Symposium at the University College for the Creative Arts in Farnham, England. Also that fall, she presented her work on the “The Colonial Dutch Impact on Native American Art in New York” at the University of Rostock in Germany. She is the recipient of a 2007 Cultural Fellowship from the Netherland-America Foundation and hopes
    to facilitate a great conversation of the cross-cultural exchange still ongoing among European and indigenous American art via her work.

  • COURTNEY LEONARD TO BE A PART OF PBS's

    We Shall Remain Project
    As a part of PBS's "WE SHALL REMAIN: The Citizen Storytellers Project" I am Developing a Short Video To Be Viewed on PBS Online in the Spring of 2009.

  • COURTNEY LEONARD TO PRESENT AT PEQUOT MUSEUM

    Gifts of The Land And Sea
    Friday, April 25, 11:30 am-3 pm
    Gifts of the Land & Waters Celebration
    Shinnecock potter Courtney Leonard, who shares the story of her culture through her art at 1 pm.

  • COURTNEY LEONARD TO SPEAK IN GERMANY

  • CLASH OF CULTURES ON SOUTHAMPTON BEACH

    NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE

    By JULIA C. MEAD
    Published: April 10, 2005

    The owners of some multimillion-dollar ocean-front mansions here were not amused when a 60-foot, 50-ton finback whale carcass washed up in their backyards in the April 3 storm. They demanded that it be moved -- and quickly, before any smell could waft over the dunes.

    The marine biologist responsible for determining how the whale died viewed the prospect of performing the necropsy by hand as an unpleasant but necessary obligation.

    For a few days, families streamed down the beach, many with a dog in tow. They encircled the whale, hamming for photos and leaning over the yellow police tape to poke at it. Someone came in the middle of the night and hacked off part of the whale's tail, a streak of blood-soaked sand marking the escape route.

    But members of the Shinnecock Nation came to pay their respects.

    The Shinnecocks, whose reservation abuts the Village of Southampton, held ceremonies on Monday and Tuesday to thank the whale for visiting them, and individual tribal members stopped by over the course of several days to pray. On Wednesday, the tribe asked the National Marine Fisheries Service for permission to use some of the whale's baleen -- the strainerlike plates in its upper jaw -- its fins and what was left of its tail in a ceremony. They said they would burn some of the parts and scatter the ashes in the water as a way to commend the whale's spirit back to the ocean.

    ''Certain things are messages,'' said Courtney Leonard, a tribal member and an artist. ''These people taking photos? They will have a memory of this. But for the Shinnecocks, this whale is much more important spiritually.'' She said that a whale's tail had become a leitmotif in her clay sculptures.

    Before and after the arrival of European settlers, the Shinnecocks were whalers. Though whales are now federally protected and hunting them is outlawed, they remain a symbol of life, sustenance and the tribe's historic connection to the ocean, Ms. Leonard said.

    Though she is recovering from a dislocated hip after an automobile accident, she sat in the sand for several hours, sculpturing the finback's tail in clay. ''I lived through an accident that I shouldn't have survived,'' she said. ''So for me the message is that life is a gift.''

    Ms. Leonard also said that the Shinnecocks were continually challenged to keep their history alive. Her way is to work with clay, a traditional medium. Her brother's was to become a marine biologist.

    ''Traditionally, this is something that we would take care of,'' she said, waving a hand toward the enormous carcass. ''This was our hunting grounds. We see this as having a purpose for coming here.''

    In their two ceremonies, on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, the Shinnecocks prayed for the whale's spirit. ''That's how we have done it for centuries,'' said Charles Smith, a tribal trustee. Though hunting has been outlawed, he said tribal members still believe ''that life is being given up for us to sustain our lives and we have to pay homage to the whale's spirit for that.''

    Mr. Smith said that the tribe was laying claim to the baleen, fins and tail under a 1640 treaty granting the Shinnecocks the right to any whale beached on Long Island. He said some of the parts would be used in a display in the tribal museum. Mr. Smith could not recall any other whale's washing up near the reservation in his lifetime and said many other Shinnecocks had never seen one up close. For that reason, he said, tribal leaders wanted the parts as educational tools.

    ''This is a unique event because this whale came so near to the reservation,'' he said, noting that it washed up about a mile west of Halsey Neck Road on the barrier beach directly across Shinnecock Bay from the tribe's 800-acre reservation.

    Despite the tribe's position that it had an automatic claim, Mr. Smith said tribal leaders filed an application with the fisheries service for the permit that would allow them to take the parts of the whale they wanted.

    Chuck Bowman, the marine biologist in charge of the necropsy, said he could not save the whale's tail or the fins for the Shinnecocks, even if their permit is granted. ''That's soft tissue, and it would rot,'' he said. ''Can't keep it in a museum.'' He said he was putting aside only some baleen.

    After the necropsy, Mr. Bowman planned to send samples and other data he collected to the fisheries service's regional office. Mr. Bowman is the president of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, based at the Atlantis Aquarium in Riverhead. The foundation is the only organization assigned to respond to marine-mammal and turtle strandings from Montauk Point to New York Harbor.

    Mr. Bowman said that strandings -- mostly seals and turtles -- occurred three or four times a year in his jurisdiction but that finding a finback was rare.

    The finback whale (Balaenoptera physalus), also known as a finner, migrates as far south as Florida but is most common in the northwest Atlantic and is spotted most often off the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador. Though it feeds off Long Island, it generally stays in deep water, Mr. Bowman said.

    ''We don't see them very often, but they're always out there,'' he said. ''It'll be interesting to find out why this one died.''

    Before the necropsy, all he knew was that the whale was a mature female that died at least a week before washing up. Rough winds and 15-foot waves pushed the body high up on the beach, where it was found late on April 3 by a beach-cleaning crew, Mr. Bowman said.

    What appeared to be long gouges and wide swaths of abraded skin may have been just the outer layer sloughing off, a natural result of decomposition, he said. Or they may have been signs that the whale was caught in fishing nets, that it was hit by a ship or that its body was slammed around in the rough surf.

    In any case, Mr. Bowman said, the cold water had preserved the body somewhat, but warmer air temperatures and worried homeowners were forcing a swift disposal.

    Downwind of the whale, the occasional breeze raised the stinging odor of rotting flesh. The town trustees, who manage the beaches, granted permission to bury the whale in the dunes just east of where it washed up, and the village hired heavy equipment, including a hydraulic excavator and a bulldozer, to move the body.

    ''The people here think there's some whale disposal fund to pay for this,'' Mr. Bowman said. ''I told them my job is only to find out how it died.'' Laughing, he said it didn't take long for the homeowners to persuade village officials to find somewhere else to bury the carcass.

    Harald G. Steudte, a Southampton Village trustee, said he hoped that the cost of disposal, which the village is splitting with the town trustees, would not exceed $10,000. ''I don't know what whales are going for these days,'' he said. ''I'm not sure if we'll be charged by the ton or the foot.''

    He said the costs would include rental of a portable toilet for the workers who helped with the necropsy and for those who controlled the crowd.

    ''We've had all sorts of strange things going on,'' he said. ''Low-flying planes, school buses dropping off kids, people streaming over the dunes as if it was a Fourth of July fireworks celebration.''











  • CONNECTING SHARDS: A RETROSPECTIVE OF EASTERN ALGONQUIN POTTERY

    2007 International Society for Ceramics

    Art Education Exchange Symposium

    hosted by

    University College for the Creative Arts at Farnham, United Kingdom

    October 19 - Lecture Announcement

    Connecting Shards: A Retrospective Of Eastern Algonquin Pottery

    Clay communication spans through centuries, continents, and cultures. At times the message can be lost, overlooked, or misinterpreted. Regardless of these mishaps, clay remains a constant. So who then are the Algonquin Native Americans? What aspect of their cultural landscape does clay embody? How does the medium of clay serve as a means of communication in their society? This lecture mines and examines the history of what has been defined as "Eastern Algonquin Ceramics" by archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists. The significant difference is that this current research is being carried out and given voice by an "Eastern Algonquin ceramicist". Courtney Leonard will explore how technological advancements redefine the term "tradition" as it is commonly applied to the indigenous potter. If clay comes from the earth and the earth is constantly shifting, then why not anticipate that the medium of clay - and the practice of ceramics - will continue to reinvent itself and transform?