Leeza Meksin

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What is my work about?

My paintings and large-scale public art installations take rectilinear structures such as canvases and buildings and playfully reconfigure their authority through draping, layering, and stretching these iconic forms towards more organic shapes that allude to the body. I seek to undermine the comfortable propriety of the public sphere, while questioning the shame that clings to what we consider private. My personal history of migration and cultural dysphoria has made me aware of masquerade as an agent of social change. By dressing up buildings and paintings in spandex outfits, I implement humor and drag as symbols of marginalized cultures, and push my practice into the realm of performance, politics and linguistic play.

 

Artist Statement

My paintings and installations explore the uncomfortable in-between states of painting and sculpture, male and female, queer and straight, dressed and naked, traditional and unfixed. Relating to the body, they have curves, limbs, guts, and appendages. Like furniture, buildings and interiors, they refer back to where the body sits, walks, and lives. The bodies evoked in my work are awkward; they refuse to be classified within conventional gender norms. My paintings and site-specific installations examine the behavior and signifying potential of a queered experience of architecture, art history and public space.

Working between paintings and large-scale fabric installations, my process allows me to navigate two opposing states. One entails solitary time in the studio, and the other brings me in contact with specific sites and its people, ushering in a host of rules, schedules, challenges, and collaborations. Together, the work explores the public and private body through the use of fabric as it relates to clothing and skin. Fabric, like many materials, tends to have an implied gender based on social conventions, especially when it comes to clothing. Spandex in particular has a dynamic gender-life. Through its use in athletics, dance, and fashion, it simultaneously elicits the feminine and masculine, the queer and burlesque, the glamorous and gaudy. Combining spandex and other fabrics with high visibility construction fencing, upholstery tacks and zip ties, I actively integrate these materials along with more traditional painterly materials like linen and oil paint, complicating their gendered reality.

The vivid prints, colors, and textures in the fabrics I use work in opposition to a rigid structure, whether it is the stretcher of a painting or the exterior of a building. I wrap, overlap, and stretch the fabric, and drag the paintbrush in response to the colors and prints. Upholstered and gutted, the expressive exists just as much in the containment as it does within its ruptures. Activating these rigid structures with layers of highly haptic materials and painterly actions such as dyeing, glazing, spraying and scumbling, exposes the vulnerabilities of these opposing forces.

 

CV

EDUCATION

2007
Yale University School of Art, MFA, Painting and Printmaking

2005
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, BFA

2000
The University of Chicago, Joint BA/MA, Comparative Literature, BA; Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, MA

1998
Universidad de Salamanca, Spain, Summer Program in Art and Literature

SOLO SHOWS

2014
Big Bounce, curated by Susan Metrican,  Kniznick Gallery, Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, October-December, (catalog)
The Airplane Installations, Inside/Outside Site-Specific Work by Leeza Meksin,  Airplane, Brooklyn, NY, May-July

2012
Negative Crotch & Other Friends , Ohio State University Gallery, Columbus, OH, August

2009
Oil and Spandex , Abington Art Center, Philadelphia, PA, October-November

2004
Log In,  LG Space Gallery, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, October

2 & 3 PERSON SHOWS

2014
House, What Is Your Crime? James Cordas, Leeza Meksin, Jeff Williams , Presented by Regina Rex at The Knockdown Center, Queens, NY

2013
Robert Dupree, Leeza Meksin, Vincent Valerio, Select Projects NYC, The Out, New York, NY

2011
HIDE: Leeza Meksin & Yevgeniya Baras,  Adds Donna Gallery, Chicago, IL

2009
John Finneran, Leeza Meksin, Chris Quirk,  Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, NY

PUBLIC ART PROJECTS

2014
Big Bounce, exterior site-specific installation on the façade of the  Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, October 2014 – April 2015

2012
Flossing the Lot , Public Art Installation at  The Lot, for  ArtSpace, funded by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Project Storefronts, and the City of New Haven, CT, June-August

2011
Sad Side of the Street , Window Installation at the former  New York Public Library, The Donnell, across the street from the MOMA, sponsored by  chashama, New York, NY, June – July
House Coat , for Southern Graphic Council International at  Cosign Projects, St. Louis, MO, March

2010
Wrapped Roof + Urns , Site-specific installation on the roof of  The Pine, New York, NY, June-Oct.

SELECTED GROUP SHOWS

2015
Handmade Abstract, curated by Elizabeth Ferrer & Jenny Gerow, BRIC Arts, Brooklyn, NY (forthcoming)
Dear Artist, Congratulations, curated by Michael Velliquette, Lovey Town, Madison, WI (forthcoming)
Shared Patio, curated by Cecilia Salama, Greenpoint Terminal Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Wearable Matters, curated by Netta Sadovski and Natalia Roumelioti, Brooklyn, NY
Family Ties , curated by Bonnie Leibowitz and Julie Torres,  500X Gallery, Dallas, TX
New Work City , curated by Julie Torres , Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY

2014
EARTHTWERKS & Other Celestial Familiars, curated by Clare Britt,  Sidecar Gallery, Hammond, IN
Static Cling , curated by Maria Britton, April Childers & Robin Kang,  Penelope Projects, Queens, NY
Second Family , curated by Julie Torres, 4 Rivington LES, NY, NY
TAB3, curated by Stefanie Brown and Kay Ottinger,  Bermuda Triangle, Brooklyn, NY
TEN , presented by Culturehall, Cindy Rucker Gallery, New York, NY

2013
Location, Location, Location, Part 1, Curated by Sun You, Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY
Hot Rubber: Wayne Koestenbaum, Leeza Meksin, Jason Mones, Lee Vanderpool,  Primetime, Brooklyn, NY
Relay Relay, Inaugural Show,  Ortega y Gasset Projects, Queens, NY

2012
Borough/Burrow: Four Brooklyn Artists : Bill Kontzias, Leeza Meksin, Keith Sklar and Steve Pauley; Curated by Eben Wood,  Kingsborough Community College Gallery, NY, NY, (catalog)
First Love : Edmund Chia, Michelle Grabner, Diego Leclery, Leeza Meksin, Liz Nielsen; Curated by Angela Bryant, Dominican University,  O’Connor Gallery, River Forest, IL

2011
The Finishers: Lisha Bai, Ivin Ballen, Deville Cohen, Joy Curtis, Mike DeLucia, Lucy Kim, Leeza Meksin, David Scanavino, Sun You; Curated by Ethan Greenbaum & Eric Gleason, The Wassaik Project , Wassaik, NY, (catalog)
TEXTURE.TXT: Josh Faught, David Humphrey, Mary Reid Kelley, Lucy Kim, Leeza Meksin, Dona Nelson, Rebecca Shore and Jackie Tileston,  Regina Rex Gallery, Queens, NY, (artist zine)

2010
Tomboy: Kelli Connell, Dana DeGiulio, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Mary George, Leeza Meksin; Curated by Betsy Odom,  Glass Curtain Gallery, Columbia College, Chicago, IL, (catalog)
Try , Curated by Jacob Rhodes,  Jen Beckman Gallery, New York, NY

2009
The Best Rapper Alive , Curated by Pete Deevakul,  The Bushwick Starr, Brooklyn, NY
Highlights, Curated by Ethan Greenbaum,  Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, New York, NY
All My Ladies’ Beards, Curated by Jason Mones,  Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA
Winter Group Show, Curated by Charlotte Henderson,  The Cabernet Initiative, Brooklyn, NY

2008
Artcrush,  Jenny Jaskey Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2007
Horizon , Curated by David Humphrey,  EFA Gallery, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, NY
New InSight , Art Chicago 2007, Curated by Susanne Ghez,  Renaissance Society of Chicago
MFA Thesis Show, Yale School of Art,  Green Gallery, New Haven, CT, (catalog)

2004
Code is Implement,  1926 Exhibition Space, Chicago, IL, (catalog)
If: Then , 1926 Exhibition Space, Chicago, IL

AWARDS & FELLOWSHIPS
2012
Public Art Year in Review, House Coat Selected in Top 50 Public Arts Projects, 2012

2010-12
Artist Residency, chashama Visual Arts Program, The Brooklyn Army Terminal, Brooklyn, NY

2009
Documentary Filmmaking Grant, Open Society Institute, The Soros Foundation, New York, NY

2007
Collaborative Project Grant, Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT

2006
Robert Schoelkopf Traveling Fellowship, Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT

1999
Summerlinks Grant, The University of Chicago and Hyde Parke Art Center, Chicago, IL

PUBLICATIONS & INTERVIEWS

2015
Tightened, As If By Pliers, A Conversation with artists and curators, Joshua Bienko and Leeza Meksin, by Eric Hibit,  Temporary Art Review, January

2014
Mail-art for LANDLESSNESS, Collaborative project with Carrie Hott, Becca Albee, Amanda Curreri, Pablo Guardiola, Jennifer Nagle Myers,  Temporary Art Review, June

2013
Leeza Meksin’s Top 5 for  The St. Claire, Issue XV, October
Images of site specific installation Wrapped Roof + Urns (2010),  Make Magazine, Issue #12: Architectural

2012
The Invisible Inside the Visible: A Conversation with Sheilah Wilson,  Temporary Art Review, December

2011
Tomboy,  Frequencies, The Imminent Frame, online project curated by Kathryn Lofton
Leeza Meksin interviewed by Lauren Adams, “House Coat,”  Temporary Art Review, April
Leeza Meksin interviewed by Steve Potter, “House Coat,”  Cityscape, St. Louis Public Radio, March 25
Leeza & Anya Meksin and Sophie Pinkham, interviewed by Karmen Ross, “Balka,”  Telegraph 21, March

2010
Essay, Hard Day’s Night,  Tiger Strikes Asteroid, December
Essay, Which Craft?, Culturehall, Issue 49, July
Anya & Leeza Meksin interviewed by Michael Fishman on the making of  Balka Movie Blog, June 18
Essay, That Thing, Culturehall, Issue 39, March
Video and text , Leeza Meksin and Lucy Kim, Art Crimes , The Highlights, online magazine, February

SELECTED PRESS & BIBLIOGRAPHY

2015
Pinkham, Sophie,  BOMB Magazine, “
Artists on Artists: Leeza Meksin by Sophie Pinkham”, Winter

2014
Koestenbaum, Wayne, “Zip Ties, Douche Bags, Dumbbells, & Why We Get Dolled Up,” Big Bounce Catalog Essay
Benzadon, Clayre,  The Brandeis Hoot, “Artist premieres spandex art at WSRC” October
Sutton, Benjamin,  Artnet News, “Insider’s Guide to Bushwick’s Open Studios,” May
Heddaya, Mostafa,  Hyperallergic, “From Surface to Air at Two Bushwick Galleries,” May

2013
Gill, Kiran,  The Justice, “Unconventional Mediums and Ideas Inspire Artist,” Brandeis University Newspaper, November
Kourlas, Gia,  The New York Times, “Performance Art Without Longueurs,” July

2012
Greenberg, Alyssa , The Artblog, “Spandex Outfits for Buildings,” June
Eben Wood, “Borough/Burrow: Four Brooklyn Artists,” Catalog Essay, February

2011
Meier, Allison,  Hyperallergic, “Unexpected Artistic Wonders in Upstate New York,” August
Kuennen, Joel,  ArtSlant Chicago, “Stretching Materiality,” July
Firshein, Sarah,  Curbed, “Crazy, Colorful, and Controversial Adventures in Public Art, “ June
Russel, Stefene,  St. Louis Magazine, “St. Louis Apartment Gallery Movement,” May
Teamart.org, Review of House Coat,  St. Louis and SCG ,”April
Keaggy, Diane,  St. Louis Post Dispatch, “Art Project Wraps Benton Park House in Spandex”
Cooperman, Jeannette,  St. Louis Magazine, “The House Coat Exhibit,” March
Garrison, Chad,  St. Louis River Front Times, “House Coat Project a Wrap” March
Fowler, Nancy,  St. Louis Beacon, “Spandex Wrapped Home Coated with Meaning,” March
Garrison, Chad,  St. Louis River Front Times, “Spandex and Bling Wrap South St. Louis Home
Andrew Russeth,  16 miles of String, “Texture.txt at Regina Rex,” February
Stuker, Jeffrey and Vos, Stacie, “On Three Works from Texture.txt ,” at  Regina Rex, January

2010
Foumberg, Jason,  NewCity Chicago, Top 5 of Everything 2010: Art, (Listed Top 5 in 2 categories: Large Scale Installation, and curated group show Tomboy at Glass Curtain Gallery)
Viera, Lauren,  The Chicago Tribune, “View of Artist Should Not Alter Our Perception ,” December
Weber, Candice,  TimeOut Chicago, “Gender Benders,” December
Foumberg, Jason,  NewCity Chicago, “Review: Tomboy, Glass Curtain Gallery,” November
Nielsen, Katy,  The Columbia Chronicle, “Workshop, Interactive Art Show,” November
Odom, Betsy, “Tomboy,” Catalog Essay, November
Garrison, Chad,  River Front Times, “Artist Plans to Wrap St. Louis Building in Spandex,” October
Curbed, “St. Louis Enters Flashdance Architectural Period” October
Klayko, Branden , The Architecture Newspaper, “Artist Proposes Fabric House Coat for St. Louis

2009
Stauffer, Tema, Culturehall, “Hybrids,” November Issue
Schmidt, Alex , National Public Radio (NPR) , All Things Considered, March 14

2008
Tiger, Caroline, The Philadelphia Inquirer, “New salons: Homes are where the art is,” October 17

2007
Maine, Stephen, The New York Sun, “A Wild Horizon”, July 9
Bad at Sports Podcast , Episode 87, Part 1, Review of New InSight at Art Chicago, April
Sorkin, Jenni, MFA Thesis Catalog, “Meksin’s Fupas Xangavague,” Yale School of Art, Spring

2005
Cassidy , Victor , Artnet.com, Chicago Open House Review, October
The Eastside Messenger , Vol. XXX, No. 2 , Columbus, Ohio, February 14

2004
Reuland, Meg, “Meksin’s ‘Log In’ at LG Gallery,” U-TURN Art Journal, Fall

TEACHING
2015-
Assistant Professor of Open Genre, Visual Arts Department , Columbia University, NY, NY

2014
Visiting Associate Professor, Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Low-Residency MFA Program in Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

2012
Visiting Assistant Professor, Fall Semester , Department of Studio Art,  Denison University, Granville, OH.

Visiting Assistant Professor, Winter & Spring, Department of Art, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, Classes taught: Advanced Painting, Material as Metaphor, Advanced Drawing and Color Theory

2007-11
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture, Tyler School of Art

CURATING

2013-
Co-founding member, Ortega y Gasset Projects, artist-run gallery and collective, Brooklyn, NY

2015
Tightened, As If by Pliers, co-curated with Joshua Bienko, The Knockdown Center, Queens, NY, Dec. 2014 -Jan.‘15

2013
Dyeing, Merging, Multitasking :
Mike Cloud, Jeff DeGolier, Shana Moulton, Dona Nelson & Siebren Versteeg, Ortega y Gasset Projects, July-August

Digital Dye Hard, curated pop-up show, performance and screening in Meksin’s studio, Queens, NY, August

2011
Texture.txt, Regina Rex, co-curated with Yevgeniya Baras, Queens, NY, January

2008
Art Crush, for Jenny Jaskey Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, October