"Julia and the Window of Vulnerability," silver print with chalk pastel, 1983, by Joanne Leonard.

"Julia and the Window of Vulnerability," silver print with chalk pastel, 1983, by Joanne Leonard.

Joanne Leonard launches ICS series on 'Intimate Publics'

The 2009 Institute for the Study of Culture and Society (ICS) Lecture Series takes as its theme “Intimate Publics.” Based on Lauren Berlant’s formulation of the political sphere, the series will examine how recognitions of membership by others in a given community or collective define who we are and give us political voice, and how public identities are rooted in private practices.

The first speaker is Joanne Leonard, the Diane M. Kirkpatrick and Griselda Pollock Distinguished University Professor in the School of Art and Design and of Women's  Studies at the University of Michigan. Her talk, “Being in Pictures: Intimacy, Photography, Memory,” will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 11) in 206 Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

Before and after her talk, which is free and open to the public, Leonard will sign copies of her book, Being in Pictures: An Intimate Photo Memoir (University of Michigan Press, 2008), which contains autobiographical photographs and photo collages informed by her experiences as feminist artist, academic, single mom, identical twin and daughter of an Alzheimer's patient.

"Through my work as an artist, I've discovered that the realms of the personal and the public are rarely as separate as I once imagined,” says Leonard, a photographer, writer and feminist scholar. Through her art, she explores wide-ranging themes such as women’s reproductive lives, Hollywood myth-making, aging and twins.

Beginning with her earliest work as a young artist in the 1960s San Francisco Bay Area art scene, Leonard’s revealing photographic images and collages reflect a number of tensions: between identity and memory, publicity and privacy, fantasy and reality. Her work is also concerned with feminist perspectives and images predominant in the media.

Her work has been exhibited at venues such as San Francisco's De Young Museum, the Pasadena (now Norton Simon) Museum, Cornell University's Herbert F. Johnson Museum and the Whitney Downtown-Manhattan. Her work is also represented in collections of the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, the Detroit Institute of Art and the American Arts Documentation Centre at the University of Exeter, England. Leonard’s work has also appeared in numerous art history books, critical theory texts and feminist studies books, including Lucy Lippard's From the Center and Domna Stanton's Discourses of Sexuality from Aristotle to AIDS.

The rest of the ICS series includes, on March 18, Dr. Matthew Gutmann, Brown University, on “Changing Men and Masculinities in Mexico: Sex, Birth Control, and AIDS,” and on April 1, Dr. David L. Eng, University of Pennsylvania, on “Racial Reparations.” Watch Monitor for complete information.

February 9, 2009