Grace Ann Leadbeater (b. 1991) is an American-Canadian photographer, writer and ceramicist who resides in Brooklyn, New York. Grace received her BFA in Photography with a minor in Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA and also completed her senior thesis in Lacoste, France. Her work is about places, spaces, memory and nostalgia woven in sentimental narratives and her interactions with people around. There’s a subtle tenderness in her images imbued with love and care for everything. This feature contains an ensemble of images from her various recent projects.
Photography is something that has been a part of my life since I was a child. I’ve been writing since I first learned how to formulate simple sentences. For me, the two mediums are constantly entwining. And it makes sense, as both are you convincing the viewer/reader to believe as you do, even if for just a second. Photography and writing provoke this notion of having someone sitting across from you and learning all these little facets about not only yourself, but your surroundings. How powerful is that? Through your own selfishness, selflessness is elicited in others. What a contradiction.
I studied ceramics for a while in college (I even considered it for grad school). It’s something that I truly enjoy and flourish in. Right now, though, that work isn’t something I want to showcase. Perhaps later on in my life I will.
What I will share, though, is that I can throw some mean dishware on the wheel.
My work definitely asserts a literal translation of nostalgia/memory. The identity part is funny to me because I’ve never made that association, but I can definitely understand that viewpoint. I create work that communicates identity subconsciously, I am sure. Anyway, I feel that my work is a little bit about forgiveness and a little bit about love. But, if I must get more technical, I would say it falls into the portraiture and documentary category.
It surfaced through a conversation with my good friend Kevin Eubanks. He and I studied photography together for a bit when we were young(er) adults. In 2012, we were both moving to different states (Asheville, NC for him and Savannah, GA for me), but we wanted to still stay in close contact—you know, keep trekking together as artists. So we had this exchange one day about making a zine that would highlight photographers whose work we really admire. The concept has changed so much since then. One day I realized that incorporating writing was important, as well. That part is still more of an in-progress thing, though.
As for the curating aspect, the focus is using imagery and writing to convey one’s relationship with time. We also focus on the current seasons a lot, as it influences us personally. There are a lot of blues and greys and neutrals on the site right now since it’s winter, but we don’t follow that mindset too strictly, either.
Most of your photo projects have an adequate artist statement. Do you believe that paraphrasing a photo series helps your viewers in making an assessment and have some insight into the work, which, otherwise, wouldn’t have been easier?
I’m a writer so having artist statements accompany my work just makes sense to me. If it helps the viewer to better understand a series, then great, but if they want to skip that part over, that’s fine too.
I photograph the people I love or know I am going to love. It’s like that with places and environments, too.
I guess you primarily shoot with film (medium format?). What photography equipment (camera, lenses, software) do you use and why? Also tell me how do you cope up with rapidly changing photography technology:
I mainly photograph with medium format, yes. And it varies. I’m constantly shooting with different cameras—sometimes a Mamiya 7, sometimes a Hasselblad 500c, sometimes a Pentax 645, sometimes a silly point and shoot. Whatever feels right, really. And I don’t cope with the progression of photographic technology. I guess I just turn a blind eye to it, or something like that.
In 2011, I photographed my mother and older brother, Andrew, in the studio. It was such a beautiful afternoon. We listened to songs that we all really liked and the jokes were abundant. Andrew kept holding my mom’s hand in between shots. I still cherish those photos so much today, and not particularly for the images themselves, but just the memory of the three of us interacting.
I believe that photography is one of the best ways we can attempt to decode everything that’s occurring in today’s culture.
What are your future plans/projects, ambitions, aspirations etc.? Any photobook of your images in mind?
I just want to keep making work. There is this photo series that’s been on my mind since the New Year, and I’m going to start working on that soon. I’d love to do a photobook in the near future.
My favorite photographer is Alec Soth. As for quotes, currently this is the one I find myself looking to,
“Knowing you are alive is watching on every side your generation’s short time falling away as fast as rivers drop through air, and feeling it hit.” ― Annie Dillard, An American Childhood.
My favorite films are East of Eden and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. With books, I have so many, but I’ll just list these three: Just Kids, Traveling Mercies, and Harry Potter. I listen to a lot of Sufjan Stevens, The Carpenters, Modest Mouse, Simon & Garfunkel, and Drake.
Something to say to our readers or aspiring photographers:
Brush your teeth more than once a day. You’ll feel better about yourself later in life (and also right now, too).