Profile: Leslie Hewitt (1977-)

Leslie Hewitt is an American contemporary visual artist.


Leslie Hewitt was born in 1977 in Saint Albans, New York. 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. 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.


Hewitt explores political, social, and personal narratives through photography, sculpture, and site-specific installations. 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. 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. 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.

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 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. From 2009–10 Hewitt was the Mildred Londa Weisman fellow as part of the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard University.  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.

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. 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. In 2016, her work was included in Photo-Poetics: An Anthology at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY. 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.

Hewitt is represented by contemporary art gallery Perrotin.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s