Image: Zoe Leonard. 'Al río / To the River' (detail), 2016–2022 © Zoe Leonard

In Conversation: Zoe Leonard and curator Nadiah Rivera Fellah on ‘Al río / To the River’

  • Sat 10 September 2022
  • 1 – 3 pm

On the occasion of ‘Zoe Leonard. Excerpts from Al río / To the River’ please join us for a conversation between the artist and Cleveland Museum of Art associate curator, Nadiah Rivera Fellah, with an introduction by poet and book editor Tim Johnson.

Leonard’s exhibition features a selection of works from her expansive photographic project ‘Al río / To the River’ (2016–2022) which traces the 1,200-mile stretch of the Rio Grande, as it’s called in the US, or the Río Bravo, as it’s known in Mexico, that is used to demarcate the border between the two countries.

The conversation will touch on the history of borderlands photography and delve into how Leonard explores the conflation of, and boundaries between, nature and politics as they manifest in the landscape of the US / Mexico border.

Signed copies of the recent publication of ‘Al río / To the River’ from Hatje Cantz will be available for purchase during the event.

Image: Photo of Zoe Leonard by Jana la Brasca

About Zoe Leonard New York-based artist Zoe Leonard balances rigorous conceptualism with a distinctly personal vision in her work, which merges photography, sculpture, and installation. By employing strategies of repetition, shifting perspectives, and a multitude of printing processes, Leonard's practice probes the politics of representation and display. Leonard explores themes such as gender and sexuality, loss and mourning, migration, displacement, and the urban landscape. Her photography specifically invites us to contemplate the role that the medium plays in constructing history, and to consider the roots of contemporary photographic culture. More than its focus on any particular subject, however, Leonard's work encourages the viewer to reconsider the act of looking itself, drawing attention to observation as a complex, ongoing process.

Image: Photo of Nadiah Rivera Fellah from Cleveland Art Museum

About Nadiah Rivera Fellah Nadiah Rivera Fellah joined the Cleveland Museum of Art in November 2019. Beginning in 2015, Fellah served in various capacities at the Newark Museum in New Jersey. Most recently at Newark, she curated the celebrated exhibition Wendy Red Star: A Scratch on the Earth and served as the primary author and editor for the accompanying catalogue. Fellah was also tasked with integrating several Latin American works into the American galleries prior to the museum’s expansion of that wing. In 2014 she organized Left Coast: California Political Art at the James Gallery at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Prior to these projects, Fellah held curatorial positions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College.

Fellah specializes in Latin American and global contemporary art. Her publications include Wendy Red Star: A Scratch on the Earth (Newark, NJ: Newark Museum, 2019); “Graciela Iturbide’s Cholo/a Series: Images of Cross-Border Identities,” in the journal History of Photography (2019); “Mining ‘The Maniacs,’” in Wendy Red Star: The Maniacs (Las Cruces, NM: New Mexico University Gallery, 2018); and Modern Heroics: 75 Years of African American Expressionism at the Newark Museum (Newark, NJ: Newark Museum, 2016), among others. She has taught courses on curatorial practice and modern and contemporary art at the City University of New York.

Fellah received her BA in art history at Oberlin College. In 2019 she completed a PhD at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her dissertation focused on the role of photography in capturing stories of migration in the US-Mexico borderlands from the 1970s to the present and was supported in part by fellowships from the Inter-University Program for Latino Research, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Center for Creative Photography.

About Tim Johnson  Tim Johnson is a poet, editor and translator based in Marfa, Texas. With his wife, Caitlin Murray, he runs the Marfa Book Co.,a bookstore, publishing house and gallery; and organizes Agave Festival Marfa, an annual celebration of the cultures of the Chihuahuan Desert.