About the Photographer
American, b. 1977
Leslie Hewitt's photographs of sparse groupings of various objects visually echo the artistic tradition of the still life, but the formal concerns of her work go hand in hand with conceptual aspects. Defamiliarizing the photographic image in different ways, Hewitt underlines her arrangements of personal and cultural artifacts as implicit ruminations on the structuring of identity and the contingencies of memory.
In works such as the Untitled (Replica) (2006-08), a photographic triptych, Hewitt depicts what appears to be an ordinary domestic scene, a tabletop featuring a pair of potted plants, a wooden box, and a snapshot of two African American boys playing in the yard beside a two-story house. At the same time, the arrangement includes objects that have more immediate, if potentially forgotten, cultural significance. A worn copy of Jean-Paul Sartre's book Black Orpheus, the philosopher's analysis of the "negritude" movement in Africa, rests on the table. One can catch a glimpse of the record sleeve of a 1977 album by one-time R&B stars Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. Arranged together and "reframed" in the photograph, this collection of things accumulates a heightened, if still elusive, sense of meaning, while suggesting the intertwining of personal and communal histories.
Hewitt composes her images in an almost sculptural manner, using the spatial configurations of objects to draw attention to the respective elements. Moreover, she presents the culminating photographs in unconventional ways that are at times disorienting. Her works require the viewer to step back and take another look, as if to emphasize the limitations of the camera and the fact that there is a lot the photographs don't tell us. In the case of Untitled (Replica) (2006-08) the photographs are oriented upside down, and Hewitt presents three images of the same scene, side by side. Two of the pictures are nearly identical, but the third reflects small changes, such as shifts in the lighting and the placement of the objects, that register the passage of time and human intervention.
Hewitt received her MFA from Yale University in 2004 and her BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 2000.