“I’m always looking for something to exaggerate, oversized lips or legs or the absence of flesh in a portrait. Some sort of odd composition or feature to make the viewer stop, take notice and (most importantly), ask questions.”
—Amy Leibrand in conversation with LensCulture Contributing Editor, Joanne Carter
Leibrand’s world exploded when she was introduced to the work of Kristamas Klousch and Francesca Woodman. Both of these photographers’ work is dark, sensual and often provocative. It appealed to Leibrand not just on a visual level but also an emotional one.
A self-described dreamer, Leibrand’s images capture our imagination and reveal an extension of herself. Her photographs dwell on concepts and invented visuals, developed from her dreams, that aim to challenge the viewer. It is confrontational story-telling, pushing for narrative and calling upon the observer to respond. Deeply rooted in emotion, it embraces our common strengths and weakness.
Her black and white images are toned by the muddiness that stems from her experience with deep fear, depression and insecurity. Since her melancholia has lifted, recent images are brighter, with clearer colour palettes and sharper edges coming from a more thoughtful place. Focusing her will and discipline to return to art, no matter her state of mind, she dances with the emotions within and expresses her true feelings unedited by fashion and encapsulating her creativity.
Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask “how,” while others of a more curious nature will ask “why.” Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.
Conjuring a story and an underlying concept that works in harmony with careful technical execution is a hallmark of Leibrand’s art. Her favourite image, which is untitled, (” I did not want to burden it with words”), she explains, is one of oversized legs walking with a blue suitcase down the middle of a highway, flanked on both sides by evergreen forest. Remembering the exact moment when she captured this shot (she has many images of legs on her camera roll), Leibrand explains ”With three friends on Highway 30 in NW Oregon driving through the Tualatin Mountains from Portland to the coast. I was in the backseat with one of my girlfriends and a box of doughnuts from the legendary Voodoo Donuts in Portland. I got the shot, shooting between the seats through the front window. The scene was amazing, the car smelled like sugar, I think the image successfully touches the mood of the day, which was adventure.”
Leibrand’s current project includes a series of images that explore the various masks women wear and the roles that they play in their lives; lovers, mothers, daughters, artists, cooks and so on. This series of portraits will depict women wearing outfits without flesh or face—exploring the fantasy that each woman can be any woman, sharing the same roles. Working in multimedia and image transfer onto wood panels, nails will be hammered into the images where the faces would usually be and string thread, strung between them, adding sculptural dimensions.
Am I looking at a mask or am I the mask being looked at?
—Ralph Eugene Meatyard
Thus, Leibrand’s imagery goes beyond the bounds of photography, breaking through traditional planes and expanding into new possibilities. Her innovative conceptual work bursts with ideas, multilayered and interwoven with inspiration and the sophisticated truth of life.