Lecture, Performance by Visiting Artist Shaun Leonardo
Visiting artist Shaun Leonardo will present the lecture “Identity and the Invisible Man” on Thursday, April 9, from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons in Bird Library. He will also lead a participatory performance on Friday, April 10, from 5-6 p.m. at the La Casita Cultural Center, 109 Otisco St., Syracuse. Both events are free and open to the public.
Leonardo will speak on the shape-shifting qualities of identity in the “New World” and the fluidity permitted within the construction of American identity by younger generations, relating his own art practice to colonial and post-colonial histories of the Dominican Republic from the Special Collections Research Center. Leonardo’s work asks: How do I see myself? What does it mean to consider one’s self through multiple identities? When and how are these identities felt to be seamless or celebrated? When and how are they felt to be invisible or manipulated?
In Friday’s participatory performance, Leonardo will call on audience members to join in developing a narrative on identity that draws inspiration from the artist’s own family history, while tying each person in the room to one another and thereby forcing participants to re-examine their self-perceived identities. The performance will incorporate recordings of SU Professor Sydney Hutchinson’s “Music in Latin America” students’ readings of literature that Leonardo selected from among SCRC holdings.
Leonardo is a multidisciplinary artist who uses self-portraiture as a means to convey the complexities of masculine identity and question preconceived notions of manhood. The portraits take the form of cutout paintings, drawings and sculptures, and are also brought to life through performance. He received a B.A. from Bowdoin College and an M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute, and has received awards from Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the New York Studio School, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Art Matters, New York Foundation for the Arts, McColl Center for Visual Art, Franklin Furnace and the Jerome Foundation. His work has been presented internationally with recent solo exhibitions in New York City.