The Heckscher Museum of Art presents Courtney M. Leonard’s first retrospective and the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the greater New York metropolitan region. Leonard (Shinnecock, b. 1980) is among the most original and compelling voices in American contemporary art. Her work amplifies Indigenous knowledge and expresses reverence for the earth and sea while advocating for their protection. It engages with Long Island’s history, breaks new ground in the disciplines of ceramics and installation art, and underscores the importance of dialogue between indigenous knowledge, marine biology, and other sciences.
COURTNEY M. LEONARD: LOGBOOK 2004–2023 will be on view at The Heckscher Museum through November 12. Leonard is an enrolled member of Long Island’s Shinnecock Indian Nation. Three of The Heckscher Museum’s galleries are dedicated to the exhibition, including one featuring Leonard’s signature room-sized installations, BREACH: Logbook23. Composed of contour mapping lines painted on gallery walls, ceramics installed in surprising configurations, and video projection, this immersive installation offers visitors a multisensory and emotional experience of Leonard’s message.
A significant new work commissioned by The Heckscher Museum for its permanent collection also debuts in the exhibition. Titled Contact 2,023…, the approximately eight-foot-long wall hanging focuses on the moment of colonial contact on Long Island by mapping the contours of the island with thousands of individual clay thumbprints resembling shells. Sewn onto a cotton canvas with artificial sinew, each thumbprint becomes a “maker’s mark,” indexing the artist’s contact with the earth.
Partnership Statement from Planting Fields Foundation, Oyster Bay, NY
Planting Fields Foundation (PFF) is proud to partner with The Heckscher Museum of Art to present the work of Shinnecock artist Courtney M. Leonard. The dynamic activation of a
traditional museum space, a historic house museum, and an Olmsted-designed landscape will
result in concurrent exhibitions across both sites. Leonard is the Planting Fields Foundation 2023 Catalyst artist and BREACH: Logbook 23 | ROOT, her site-specific outdoor installation, is currently located in the Taxus Field. ROOT will examine how the colonization of Long Island has impacted traditional Shinnecock foodways and explore themes of food and cultural sovereignty, as well as ongoing ecological issues that endanger the Shinnecock Nation and Long Island as a whole.