"You know, art can be something which can really disempower people, or it can be a vehicle which can empower people."
Leonardo Drew was born in Tallahassee, Florida in 1961, and grew up in a public housing project in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Although often mistaken for accumulations of found objects, his sculptures are instead made of "brand new stuff"—materials such as wood, rusted iron, cotton, paper, mud—that he intentionally subjects to processes of weathering, burning, oxidization, and decay. Whether jutting from a wall or traversing rooms as freestanding installations, his pieces challenge the architecture of the space in which they’re shown. Memories of his childhood surroundings—from the housing project where he lived to the adjacent landfill—resurface in the intricate grids and configurations of many of his pieces. Never content with work that comes easily, Drew constantly reaches beyond "what's comfortable" and charts a course of daily investigation, never knowing what the work will be about but letting it find its way, and asking, "What if...."
Leonardo Drew attended Parsons School of Design, and received a BFA from Cooper Union (1985). Among the honors and grants he has received are the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize (2011); Asian Cultural Council Grant (1997); Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (1994); and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Grant (1993). Drew has been awarded residencies at Artpace (1995); the Studio Museum in Harlem (1991); Vermont Studio School (1990); and Skowhegan (1998). Major exhibitions of his work have appeared at SCAD Museum of Art (2013); DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park (2011); Artpace (2010); Weatherspoon Art Museum (2010); Blaffer Gallery (2009); Sikkema Jenkins (2007); Centro Arte Contemporanea, Siena (2006); the Fabric Workshop (2002); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (2000); Bronx Museum of the Arts (2000); Saint Louis Art Museum (1996); Carnegie International (1995); MCA San Diego (1995); and Biennial Dakar (1992). Leonardo Drew lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.done reading