Leslie Hewitt

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Leslie Hewitt
Leslie Hewitt Exhibition at Power Plant
Born1977 (age 45–46)
EducationYale University, M.F.A
New York University, Africana Studies/Cultural Studies
The Cooper Union For the Advancement of Science and Art, B.F.A.
Alma materYale University

Leslie Hewitt (born 1977, Saint Albans, Queens) is an American contemporary visual artist.[1]


Leslie Hewitt was born in 1977 in Saint Albans, Queens in New York City.[1] Hewitt received a B.F.A. from the Cooper Union's School of Art in 2000 and later received an M.F.A. from Yale University in 2004.[2] She studied Africana Studies and Cultural Studies at New York University from 2001 to 2003. Hewitt has held residencies at the Core Program at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.[3][4][5]

Personal life[edit]

"Hewitt has been described as a member of the post–civil rights generation, which understands the civil rights movement through images and text rather than direct experience. More specifically, she is of a generation growing up just outside the immediate shadow of pressing political change, and one which also has a particular relationship to photography."[6]


Hewitt explores political, social, and personal narratives through photography, sculpture, and site-specific installations.[7] Her work varies in scale from small compositions to billboard sized photographs which rest in wooden frames that lean against the wall and invite viewers to experience a space that rests between sculpture and traditional photography.[2] She references notions of non-linear perspective and double consciousness through arrangements of objects from popular culture and personal ephemera. She is interested in how much we rely on images to provide memories of personal experience, how collective memory of past events is shaped and preserved, and in how the two overlap, coexist, and inform each other.[8] Hewitt draws much of her material from black popular culture of the 1970s and ’80s. Items such as VHS tapes of black cinema, graffitied documents, and books by Alex Haley and Eldridge Cleaver often appear in her photographs or reside within her installations.[9]

Hewitt has an extensive residency and exhibition history. In 2007, she spent a significant amount of time in Houston participating in the Core Program and served as the Project Row Houses/ Core Fellow from 2006–07. Hewitt participated in the 2008 Whitney Biennial with her piece Make it Plain[10] and received a 2008 Art Matters research grant to travel to the Netherlands to research Dutch still-life paintings created during the period of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade at the Rijksmuseum in Holland.[11] From 2009–10 Hewitt was the Mildred Londa Weisman fellow as part of the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard University.[12] During her fellowship Hewitt examined the origins of the camera obscura and used the camera as a tool to explore cultural memory through the construction of temporary still lifes. By repeatedly composing and photographing her arrangements she captured changes in daylight, gravity, and perception.[13]

She was the recipient of the Guna S. Mundheim Berlin Prize in the Visual Arts and Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin for Spring 2012. In the fall of 2012 a solo exhibition of her work, Leslie Hewitt: Sudden Glare of the Sun, was presented at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.[14] Hewitt was the 2014 USA Artists Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz Fellow in Visual Arts. Her work is in the public collection at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY, among others.[15] In 2016, her work was included in Photo-Poetics: An Anthology at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY.[16] Leslie Hewitt: Collective Stance, a solo exhibition with collaborative works made with cinematographer Bradford Young, was presented at Sculpture Center in Queens NY in 2016.[17]

Hewitt is represented by contemporary art gallery Perrotin.[18]


Riffs on Real Time (2006-2009)[edit]

Hewitt's exhibition featured a collection of 10 highly stylized photographs from an ongoing series started in 2002. Shown together for the first time by the same name in a sleek installation, Untitled, 2011. Described as "postmodern takes on the still life", Riffs on Real Time is an exploration of how the juxtaposition of different materials can comprise a cultural identity. Created from 2002–2009, a primary image, usually culled from the American media and sociopolitical in bent, is centrally placed on a larger book, photo, or other document so that the image appears framed; in turn, this arrangement is photographed laid out on a hardwood or carpeted floor, which adds yet another frame.[4] "Hewitt operates within an unvarying compositional structure. Each image includes a document showing clear evidence of use—perhaps a book with worn corners, a magazine folded open to a particular page, or a sheet of paper with inscrutable writing. On top of this document a snapshot of American life is placed. These layered constructions are arranged and photographed directly on the floor, which serves as a literal ground for the composition. Whether soft, grainy wood or richly textured domestic carpet, this ground speaks to the interior nature of Hewitt’s work and its metaphoric and physical location within the built spaces of human con- struction and occupation."[19] Also, riffing on the premise of "same but different" was the photo installation Untitled, in which a large starch-white slab was propped against the wall, scaled to the dimensions of the gallery's doorway. Here, Hewitt's iconography and conceptual choices echoed her previous work, as she insinuated this particular offering into the material legacies of the 1960s and 1970s.This exhibition confirms Hewitt's rightful place among a generation of artists confronting the historical legacies of the 1960s through an amalgamation of artistic strategies that test the premises of photography.[20] It also raises the perplexing issue of what happens when formerly radical strategies have been tamed and naturalized into a generational style.[21]

Midday (2009)[edit]

"Hewitt’s work has been said to pose questions about ‘the conundrum of the past and its connection to the contemporary moment.’ In Midday [2009], Hewitt’s latest series, a mandarin orange sits next to a copy of Manchild in the Promised Land, a nearly autobiographical account of the challenges of urban life for African Americans in 1950s New York. As with Hewitt’s earlier works, elements from the past are placed in relationship to more recent photographs, and thereby introduced into a contemporary context."[22]

Untitled (Structures)[edit]

The exhibition at the Menil Collection, 'Untitled (Structures),' (2013) was a collaboration with cinematographer Bradford Young and producer Karen Chien. Untitled is a series of short silent film vignettes created in 2012.[23] The films include footage from 2010 – 2012 of locations where iconic civil rights photographs were taken in the 1950s and 1960s in Chicago, Memphis, and parts of Arkansas, which were all palpably transformed by the Great Migration. "Individual frames span 15 to 24 seconds and center around single details isolated from the archival images—a black body bent, a crack in the white marble stairs—that are then “restaged” and filmed on the same consecrated grounds."[24] The works are 35mm film transferred to HD video, dual-channel video installation. In an Artforum interview, Hewitt says of the dual-channel video projection: "You can decide to look at one or the other, but your eyes have to contend with both."[25] “Hewitt draws the tradition of the still life and combines it with the camera's ability to “shift the view of the world and hold it still.”[26]

Still-life series[edit]

In 2013, Hewitt released a series of photographs that were displayed at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. within tilted maple box-frames, that brings into focus the morphing of images in a studio into object-like artworks shown in a gallery. In Untitled (Perception), 2013, the block of maple that rests on a stack of three books, the only identifiable one being a collection of James Baldwin's essays, matches the work's wooden frame. Also nearby was an untitled work comprising two free-floating walls leaning against the gallery architecture. These minimalist objects are made of drywall and wood and were modeled on the texture and size of the gallery walls. They assert a content-free physicality that harmonized with the rest of the exhibition's pictorial and physical material.[27]


Hewitt has staged a large number of solo shows at galleries and museums in the United States and internationally. Her notable solo shows include Make It Plain (2006), LAXART Gallery, Los Angeles;[28] Momentum Series 15: Leslie Hewitt (2011), Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston;[29] Sudden Glare of the Sun (2012), Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis;[30] New Pictures: Leslie Hewitt, A Series of Projections (2016), Minneapolis Institute of Arts;[31] and Leslie Hewitt (2022-2023), Dia Bridgehampton, Bridgehampton, New York[32]

Hewitt has also participated in many group exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial (2008);[33] and A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration (2022).[34]


  1. ^ a b Dominic, Molon; Johanna, Burton; Esperanza, Rosales; Lisa, Melandri; Samantha, Topol; Louis, Contemporary Art Museum St. (2013). Leslie Hewitt : sudden glare of the sun. ISBN 9780977752898. OCLC 845516508.
  2. ^ a b "Leslie Hewitt". Guggenheim Collection Online. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  3. ^ "Talk: Leslie Hewitt: Propositions in Still Photography & Film Vignettes — Minneapolis Institute of Art | Minneapolis Institute of Art". Minneapolis Institute of Art. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Leslie Hewitt". www.guggenheim.org. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  5. ^ "Leslie Hewitt | Clough Hanson". sites.rhodes.edu. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  6. ^ Hopkins, R. (2011, April 7). Leslie Hewitt’s Riffs on Real Time. https://7acd0b6e-e2d7-4c8e-9074-17088633d917.filesusr.com/ugd/d3f9dc_3aa979dca23f44b5a566ab7bd75e827e.pdf.
  7. ^ "Event". The Kitchen. May 10, 2010. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  8. ^ Hopkins, Randi. "Leslie Hewitt explores the role of photography in recapturing the past". Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  9. ^ Lovell, Whitfield. "Leslie Hewitt by Whitfield Lovell". Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  10. ^ "Leslie Hewitt". Guggenheim Collection Online. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  11. ^ Website by Project Projects, www.projectprojects.com, 2006–2007. "D'Amelio Terras". Damelioterras.com. Retrieved February 1, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "Leslie Hewitt". March 16, 2012.
  13. ^ "Leslie Hewitt – Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study – Harvard University". Radcliffe.edu. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  14. ^ Design, TOKY Branding +. "Leslie Hewitt: Sudden Glare of the Sun | Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis". camstl.org. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  15. ^ "Artist Biography". Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  16. ^ "Photo-Poetics: An Anthology". www.brooklynrail.org. March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  17. ^ SculptureCenter. "SculptureCenter Exhibition – Leslie Hewitt: Collective Stance". sculpture-center.org. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  18. ^ "Perrotin: Artists: Leslie Hewitt". www.Perrotin.com. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  19. ^ Art Matters Foundation. (2009). Midday Leslie Hewitt. https://7acd0b6e-e2d7-4c8e-9074-17088633d917.filesusr.com/ugd/d3f9dc_f79808e54e9a42baade18602c93dede9.pdf.
  20. ^ "Leslie Hewitt by Whitfield Lovell - BOMB Magazine". bombmagazine.org.
  21. ^ Banai, Nuit. "Artforum International" (Document). ProQuest 902178145. {{cite document}}: Cite document requires |publisher= (help)
  22. ^ Art Matters Foundation. (2009). Midday Leslie Hewitt. https://7acd0b6e-e2d7-4c8e-9074-17088633d917.filesusr.com/ugd/d3f9dc_f79808e54e9a42baade18602c93dede9.pdf.
  23. ^ "Leslie Hewitt, Bradford Young, and a Cold Intimacy - Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts". gulfcoastmag.org.
  24. ^ Christoph, S. (n.d.). Leslie Hewitt trains her lens on photography charged history. Blown Modern Painters. https://7acd0b6e-e2d7-4c8e-9074-17088633d917.filesusr.com/ugd/d3f9dc_9c794ba6066e4b0e878fc31a27dc2126.pdf.
  25. ^ "Leslie Hewitt". www.artforum.com.
  26. ^ Mears, E. (2007, January). Leslie Hewitt. https://7acd0b6e-e2d7-4c8e-9074-17088633d917.filesusr.com/ugd/d3f9dc_67436b87c39345f282ee8caf6cb77afb.pdf.
  27. ^ Rutland. "Artforum International" (Document). ProQuest 1462489817. {{cite document}}: Cite document requires |publisher= (help)
  28. ^ "Make It Plain". LAXART. Archived from the original on December 23, 2022.
  29. ^ "Leslie Hewitt". ICABoston. Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Archived from the original on December 23, 2022. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  30. ^ "Sudden Glare of the Sun". CAMstl. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Archived from the original on June 30, 2022. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  31. ^ "New Pictures: Leslie Hewitt". ArtsMIA. Minneapolis Institute of Art. Archived from the original on July 15, 2021. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  32. ^ "Leslie Hewitt". DiaArt. Dia Art Foundation. Archived from the original on August 20, 2022. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  33. ^ "2008 Whitney Biennial". Whitney. Whitney Museum. Archived from the original on August 14, 2022. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  34. ^ "A Movement in Every Direction". ArtBMA. Baltimore Museum of Art. Archived from the original on December 11, 2022. Retrieved December 23, 2022.

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