About

Leah Schrager creates paintings, digital art, and online performance. She is the model, photographer, artist, and marketer in/of her images. Her visual works mix a painterly aesthetic with bodily forms and often draw their material from her online conceptual practice. Her works with @OnaArtist (Instagram 2.7m) and Sarah White (The Naked Therapist) have explored themes of sexuality, representation, and distribution. Her practice is situated in a contemporary hotbed of female (in)appropriateness, arousal, celebrity, fandom, and commercialism that seeks to explore female biography and labor in today’s global society.

Schrager has been compared by journalists to such seminal figures as Diane Fossey, Marina Abramovic, Marcel Duchamp, Laurel Nakadate, and Sigmund Freud. She and/or her work have been profiled in 1000′s of media outlets, including Art Forum, Monopol, The Huffington Post, Vice, Viceland, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, CBS News, ABC News, The NY Daily News, and Playboy. She has exhibited with Castor Gallery, Untitled Space, Roman Fine Art, Johannes Vogt Gallery, ArtHelix Gallery, and the Museum of Visual Art in Leipzig.


To contact the studio please email: leahartstudio[at]gmail[dot]com

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CV

EDUCATION

2015 M.F.A. Fine Arts, Parsons, The New School, NYC
2007 B.A. Dance and B.S. Biology, summa cum laude, University of Washington, Seattle

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2018
Museum of Visual Art in Leipzig, Virtual Normality – Net Artists 2.0
2017
Castor Gallery, NYC: Last Night
Roman Fine Art, NY: Art On The Edge
HDLU, Meštrović Pavilion, Croatia: Screen Present Tense, curated by Sandra Sterle & Klaudio Štefančić
Spring Break Art Show, NYC: The Celebrity Project, Year 2, curated by Kristin Sancken
Novella Gallery, NYC, Bad Sex Bad Sex
2016
Johannes Vogt Gallery, NY: Summer Fling
Miami Beach Cinema Gallery, FL: Glitter Peach (solo)
Andreas Schmidt Gallery, Berlin: Adult Material
Superchief Gallery, NYC: The Celebrity Project, Year 1 (2 person)
Blogfabrik, Curated by Girls, Berlin: Digital_Luv<3
White Circle Gallery, Brussels: Ex Nihilo, Nihil Fit / Out of Nothing, Nothing Comes
UT Gallery, Knoxville, TN: Persona, Process Portraiture
Untitled Space, NYC: In The Raw: The Female Gaze on the Nude, curated by Coco Dolle and Indira Cesarine
Center For Performance Research, Brooklyn, NYC: Beaver
2015
The Kitchen, NYC, Off Pink, curated by Tina Kukielski
New Hive, online: Life Glitch, curated by Lindsay Howard
Gallery Sensei, NYC: Foursome, curated by Coco Dolle
Stream Gallery, NYC: The Male Gayze, curated by Monica Mirabelle (solo)
Distillery Gallery, Boston: Second Selves, curated by Alexis Avedisian
2014
Bronx Art Space, NYC: Synthetic Zero, curated by Mitsu Hadeishi
25 East Gallery, The New School, NYC: FE:BODY
NARS Foundation, NYC: Actions & Intent: Documentations in Performance, curated by Peter Gynd
2012
Chashama Gallery, NYC: Google Part I
Hotel Americano, NYC: Am I not Art/Ist, (solo)
2010
The Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA: Pretty | Whatever, curated by Joseph Roberts (solo)

SELECTED PRESS

Highlighted:
ArtForum, Johanna Fateman, “Women on the Verge: Art, Feminism, and Social Media,” April 2015, print (view pdf)
Forbes, Adam Lehrer, “On Sex Positive Selfies, Instagram Fame, and Naked Therapy,” 2017
Time, Alexandra Genova, “Exploring the Blurred Lines between Celebrity, Sex and Art,” 2017
Monopol, “Extreme Body,” March 2016, print cover
Artinfo, Benjamin Sutton, “Nude Art Controversy Raises the Question: Is it Art, Or is It Naked Therapy?” 2012

More:
Glamour, Kate Friedman, “Meet Leah Schrager, Our Summer of Sex Artist-in-Residence,” 2017
Elephant, David Evans, “The Borrowers: Copyright and its Discontents,” Spring 2017, print
The Art Gorgeous, Centerfold, Issue #1 Spring 2017, print
RUSSH, Edwina Hagon, “Rise of the Fourth Wavers,” Feb/March 2017, print (pdf)
Glamour, Summer of Sex Story Lead, July 2017, print
Hestetika, Marco De Crescenzo, “L’Esperienza Del Nudo,” April 2017, print
Dazed and Confused, Anna Freeman, “How to Create a Famous Instagram Alter-Ego,” 2016
Huffington Post, Priscilla Frank, “These Women Are Their Own Damn Muses,” 2016
Vice, Rachel Rabbit White, “Hot Girl Art,” 2016
The Creator’s Project, Alyssa Buffenstein “20 Female Artists’ Perspectives on the Nude” 2016
Huffington Post, Priscilla Frank, “Who’s Afraid of the Female Gaze?” 2016
Bustle Magazine, Kristen Sollee, “Sex Positive Feminist Artists To Know,” 2016
Art Slant, Christian Peterson, “Artist of the Week: Leah Schrager,” 2016
Widewalls, Lorenzo Pereira, “Radically sexual feminist art we need to remember,” 2016
Inside Art, “The Selfie as a form of power,” 2016
Art Report, Adriana Pauly, “Leah Schrager Confronts Sexuality in Feminist Art,” 2016
Dazed & Confused, Charlotte Jansen, “Meet the trailblazing women producing disruptive online and real life art, all of which is making more of an impact than you think,” 2016
Elephant Magazine, Charlotte Jansen, Girl on Girl, On Nipples, 2015
Konbini, DJ Pangburn, “Life Glitch: An Artistic Exploration of Our Lives as Digital Archives,” 2015
Dazed & Confused, Ashleigh Kane, “Instagram is a new gallery space for these US female artists” 2015
Rhizome, Josephine Bosma, “Sabotaging Big Daddy Mainframe, via Online Exhibition,” 2015
Animal NY, Prachi Gupta, “Artists Reclaim Their Bodies in New Online Exhibit,” 2015
Spook Magazine, Emma Marie Jones, “Reclaiming the Female Nude,” 2015
Dazed and Confused, Monique Todd, “The Digital Artists to Keep Your Eye On,” 2015
Vice, Sean J Patrick Carney, “I Went To Naked Therapy™,” 2014
Culturebot, Jeremy Barker, “Can Un-Licensed Therapy Be Performance Art? Can Prostitution?” 2012
DNAInfo, Huffington Post, Matthew Katz, “‘Naked Therapist’ Exhibit Booted from West Chelsea Art Festival,” 2012
NY Magazine, Noreen Malone, “Is ‘Naked Therapy’ Art or Commerce?” 2012

Further ONA press viewable here.
Further Sarah White press viewable here.

CURATORIAL

2017 Nu Matr-E-archs, online, view at numatrearchs.com
2016 ArtGirlTV, Snapchat
2015 Body Anxiety, online, curated with Jennifer Chan, view at bodyanxiety.com
2011-2012 The Home Of Art Series, Brooklyn, NY

 

WRITINGS & PUBLICATIONS

Self-Made Supermodels: On Being an Instagram Model as a New Form of DIY, Digital, Feminized Performance, Published in Rhizome, by Leah, 2016
Pay the Nipple by Ona, 2015
The Female Painter by Leah, 2015
The Ona Generation, 2014
Am I Not Art/Ist by Sarah White, 2012

 

ETC

SXSW: #NSFW: Feminist Artists on Sex & Digital Identity, 2018 (panel)
Girl on Girl: Art and Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze, Charlotte Jansen, Lawrence King Publishing, 2017, (book)
The F-Word, featured artist, screened at Dallas Contemporary with Black Sheep Feminism, the Guerilla Girls Twin City, MOCA North Miami, Art Basel 2016, etc, 2016, (documentary)
“Artist as Curator” panel at Swiss Institute, April, 2015 (panel)
Body Anxiety Comments Section, BHQFU, 2015 (panel)
This Week In Sex, The Museum of Sex, NYC 2015 (talk)
Jeff Probst Show, hosted by Jeff Probst, “Sex for Success,” January 11, 2013 (TV)
Fox Business News, hosted by Tracy Byrnes, “Wiener: Rehab or Resignation?” with co-panelists Andrew Breitbart and Kimberly Guilfoyle, June 14, 2011 (TV)

 

PERFORMANCES (in others’ works) + DANCE

2015 Hello, Selfie!, Pulse Art Fair Miami Basel (with Kate Durbin)
2012 Revenge of the Fantastic Nobodies, White Box Gallery, New York, NY
2012 Eve Democracy, Lower Manhattan Cultural Center, New York, NY (with Andrea Stanislav)
2011 Live After Birth, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY (with the Fantastic Nobodies)
2009 Ghost Siege, Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY (with Andrea Stanislav)
2009 Lasagna, On The Boards, Seattle, WA (with Linas Phillips and Jim Fletcher)
2009 Get Me Out of Here, Yin Yue, DTW / New York Live Arts, Tisch School of the Arts, New York, NY
2007 Floor of the Forest, by Trisha Brown, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA (reconstruction)
2005-7 Chronicle, Martha Graham; Tensile Involvement, Alwin Nikolais; Liebe, Dore Hoyer; There is a Time, José Limón; Brahms Waltzes, Charles Weidman; Primitive Mysteries, Martha Graham; Chamber Dance Company, Meany Hall, Seattle, WA (reconstructions)

A Few Reviews

“Leah Schrager’s meditation on her performance of celebrity as an arts practice was our most-read WWAOTW column in 2016. Writes Christian: ‘Schrager’s deceptively complex brand of feminism, expressed through the unashamed sexuality of her beautifully abstracted self portraits, makes her voice unique among new media artists.'” Artslant, 2017

“New York City-based Leah Schrager has been described as “ a woman of her time”. Why? This multifaceted artist is battling against and commenting on a number of contemporary issues from the male gaze and digital censorship to celebrity culture, digital identity and sex. By using and photographing her own body as an art object through an alter ego called “Ona”, she reclaims her identity, her body, and her sexuality in racy selfies.” The Art Gorgeous, 2016

“In terms of contemporary art, Schrager’s hybridization of various practices including performance art, social practice, the internet as context/interface, and solicited audience participation makes the work interestingly difficult to define concretely. More often than not, performers struggle to entice their audiences into participating…What’s fascinating is how Schrager has exploited the male gaze to garner participants who are willing to pay their own money to contribute to the development of her project. It’s a coy and, frankly, economically taut method to approach interactive performance work while avoiding actual individual exploitation through maintaining the valued anonymity of her participants (I’m looking at you, Laurel Nakadate).” – Sean J Patrick Carney, Vice, 2014

“Aforementioned bathroom–selfie–taker par excellence Schrager also appears in The F-Word as the Naked Therapist, a project that sees the artist take on the role of a shrink who slowly undresses during the session. Men actually hire her to do this; thus, as the Naked Therapist, she appropriates the male gaze for profit and sells her image as a cam–girl for social and monetary capital. She elevates sex work to the level of post-modern art simply by asking it to be viewed as such. Of all the young artists featured, Schrager’s work leaves her viewers most unsettled.” … “These porno-critical works smoothly read as “feminist,” while Schrager’s work sits in a more uncomfortable—perhaps more honest—contemporary truth about the place of women in the art world. Schrager revels in her sexualized power and abject labor and uses it as a conceptual segue to address not only issues of agency but to also sub–textually address which bodies are privileged over others.” – Rachel Rabbit White, Broadly, 2016

“The problem, according to the event organizers? The performance seemed like “self-promotion,” rather than art. Those are mutually exclusive now? Have they looked around the art world lately?” – Noreem Malone, NY Mag, 2012

“Schrager, in her text, coins the term man hands for the phenomenon by which wom- en’s images of themselves accrue status and art market value when used by male artists…. As Schrager writes, the artists’ “bodies appear as fantasies, mutations, glitches, nightmares, mundanities, dating profiles.” All content morphs and mutates online; it’s an assumption implicit in these artists’ work. If they practice mirroring as a critical strategy, they are mirroring not only tropes of representation but the ways in which those representations morph and mutate, move and shift, the way they are used. The flux, trickery, and metamorphoses that are a staple of online and IRL fantasy worlds are present in “Body Anxiety” as both aesthetic and critical tactics.” – Johanna Fateman, Artforum, 2015

“A resonant voice in the new feminist art wave, Schrager’s work often triumphs sex positivity by reframing the power dynamic between model and photographer and challenging the notion that provocative imagery is less than art.” – Margaret Bechtold, A Woman’s Thing, 2016

“Anyway, the gallery’s rather gross dismissal of the project as a “commercial venture” certainly carries the stigma that White is really nothing but a prostitute, of either the literal (see above) or figurative (why is it now “art”?) variety. (And just to be clear, I don’t think White is a prostitute in either capacity.) Either way, it was deemed not art, using former Supreme Court Justine Stewart Potter’s infamous and thorough, “I know it when I see it” test. It would be all too easy to make jokes at White’s expense, and it’s quite possible that it’ll feature in some late night talk show monologue soon enough. But really, this ignores the actually challenging questions raised by White’s practice: Does it qualify as art? Without regard to whether it constitutes good or valuable art–a judgment I’m not qualified to make–the answer, from my perspective, is that it most definitely does qualify as art. In fact, the debate touches on one of the central critiques of performance in the visual art world that we’ve been exploring … Namely, the visual art world, whether commercial galleries or non-profit museums, is essentially object-, and therefore commodity-, oriented. And the hyper-capitalism of the visual art market these days, with record-breaking sales that led New York‘s Jerry Saltz to recently proclaim it a “nasty” “disgusting” “freak-show,” exacerbates the problem; how, given the crass commercialism of the entire field, can a curator credibly claim that one practice is commercial in an acceptable way, while another is not?” – Jeremy Barker, Culturebot, 2012

“Sophie Calle in reverse” – Vanessa Place, 2018