Joanne Leonard (b. 1940, Los Angeles, CA) is renowned for her trailblazing photographic practice, which largely intersects photo-collage and feminist ideology to recognize often overlooked intimate and deeply personal moments within women’s lives. Leonard’s work, which she describes as “intimate documentary,” has appeared in noted critical and feminist texts, including Lucy Lippard’s “From the Center”, and she is widely known for her visual memoir, Being in Pictures: An Intimate Photo Memoir (2008), which uniquely shares Leonard’s experiences – as feminist, academic, single mom, identical twin, and daughter of an Alzheimer’s patient – and their influence on her artistic practice. Leonard’s well-known series, “Dreams and Nightmares”, stems from the end of her marriage, which left the artist disenchanted with traditional notions of love and romance. Decades before the availability of now commonplace photo-editing software, such as Photoshop, Leonard created the complex images in this series through manual labor: layering black-and-white transparencies over physical and material components, such as clippings from book illustrations, magazines, and more.
Leonard’s photographs have been featured in exhibitions at major museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY), and are also held in the collections of such institutions as The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA), and the International Center of Photography (New York, NY). In addition to her celebrated artistic practice, Leonard has cultivated a distinguished record as both scholar and educator. Leonard is one of the few photographers and women artists published in Janson’s History of Art. She also completed thirty-one years on the faculty at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, earning the title of Diane M. Kirkpatrick and Griselda Pollock Distinguished University Professor in 2004. During her tenure, Leonard was Director of the Program in Visual Culture at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender for three years and received the John H. D’arms Faculty Award for Distinguished Graduate Mentoring in the Humanities in 2001. She retired in 2009 after dedicating forty years of her life to teaching as a college professor.