About

Leah Schrager is an artist who works between the web and NYC. In her work she photographs, appears in, augments, and markets her own image. She’s interested in the line, movement, biography, and digital life of the female body. In 2010 she founded a new form of therapy as Sarah White, The Naked Therapist. She also co-curated the female-positive BodyAnxiety.com exhibition, which is featured in the April 2015 issue of Art Forum. After graduating in 2015 with an MFA in Fine Art from Parsons, The New School, she launched a celebrity-as-art-practice project called ONA, which is set to run until 2020. Making herself a real world celebrity has so far involved the creation and growth of her Instagram account, which has over 1.4 Million followers, the release of her EP “Sex Rock,” and the publication of “Self-Made Supermodels” in Rhizome. In 2018 she’ll be releasing her first album, going on tour, and finishing a documentary film about her IG reaching 1M.

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 The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Vice, CBS News, ABC News, The NY Daily News, NBC New York, FOX Business News, Playboy, The Huffington Post, Salon.com. Prior shows include Center on Contemporary Art, Andreas Schmidt Gallery, Superchief Gallery, Castor Gallery, Johannes Vogt Gallery, and Spring Break Art Show 2017.

While most contemporary female artists ignore or critique the male gaze, Schrager embraces and explores it through utilizing an open-minded approach to sexuality that fluidly includes its dynamics in her aesthetic investigations. Her visual work involves digitally and materially painting on images of herself, and her conceptual work involves creating and propagating images of herself online in tandem with various “persona” projects. Both practices seek to examine the possibilities of female action and representation in today’s society. She is a proponent of considering the artistic value and merit of selfies, as selfies provide the model full legal and economic control over her images (as elucidated in her recent curatorial statement for Body Anxiety) and owned self-explorations offer an empowering alternative to the traditional status of models under “man hands” (men selling women’s images as art).

Click here for installation pics.

View works by year: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009
View works by medium: digital, material, online

 

Contact

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

To purchase works email Art Helix Gallery: peter.arthelix[at]gmail[dot]com

Instagram: @LeahSchrager
Twitter: @LeahSchrager

Sign up for her newsletter here.

 

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
Untitled Space, NYC: Secret Garden,
Novella Gallery, NYC, Bad Sex Bad Sex
Spring Break Art Show, NYC: Milk And Night, curated by Coco Dolle
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
Superchief Gallery, NYC: The F-Word Immersive
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
Bruce High Quality Foundation, NYC, Under the Seams Runs the Pain: A Musing on Artists Who Make Other People
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
Konbini, “How I Became an Instagram Model,” 2016
Huffington Post, Priscilla Frank, “These Women Are Their Own Damn Muses,” 2016
Purple, Interview and Music Video Premiere, 2016
Vice, Rachel Rabbit White, “Hot Girl Art,” 2016
Galore Magazine, Ashley Uzer, “Artist Ona on Why Sexy Selfies are Actually High 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
Furtherfield, Eric Zepka, “Synthetic Selves: Mediated Body Art,” 2015
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
Slutist, Kristin Korvet, “THOT-Provoking “Profit-Positive Pu$$y,”” 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 & Confused Magazine, Charlotte Jansen, “Body Anxiety and a new wave of digifeminist art,” March, 2015
TopicalCream, Yasmin Guerts, “Digi-Feminism,” 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
Psychology Today, David J. Ley, Ph.D., “Naked Therapy: Believe it or not, this Naked Therapist has things to teach psychology,” 2014
Animal New York, Marina Galperina, “Artist’s Notebook: Leah Schrager,” 2014
Bullett Media, Whitney Mallett, “Exclusive: Artist Leah Schrager Comes Out As the Naked Therapist,” 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
The Naked Rockstar by Ona, 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
“SXSW: Online Therapy… Naked? Post-Mortem,” PsychCentral.com, March 18, 2012
Naked Therapy by Sarah White, 2010

ETC
Girl on Girl: Art and Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze, Charlotte Jansen, Lawrence King Publishing, 2017, (book)
Artist or Pornographer with Dr. Lisa Levy, March 10, 2016 (radio)
The F-Word, featured artist, screened at Dallas Contemporary in conjunction with Black Sheep Feminism, the Guerilla Girls Twin City Takeover, MOCA North Miami, Art Basel 2016, Franklin Street Works, and more, 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)
Feminist Urgent Roundtable, Bruce High Quality Foundation University, 2014 (panel)
Jeff Probst Show, hosted by Jeff Probst, “Sex for Success,” January 11, 2013 (TV)
SXSW panel with Dr. Grohol called “Online Therapy, Naked?” 2012 (panel)
Fox Business News, hosted by Tracy Byrnes, “Wiener: Rehab or Resignation?” with co-panelists Andrew Breitbart and Kimberly Guilfoyle, June 14, 2011 (TV)
Sirius XM Stars Radio, hosted by Judith Regan, Roundtable on topic of sex, with co-panelists Susie Bright and Charlotte Shane, March 30, 2011 (radio)

PERFORMANCES (in others’ works) + DANCE
2015 Hello, Selfie!, Pulse Art Fair Miami Basel (with Kate Durbin)
2014 Hello, Selfie!, Transfer Gallery, NYC (with Kate Durbin)
2013 Carwash, Cutlog Art Fair, New York, NY (with the Fantastic Nobodies)
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)
2011 Smoke The New Cigarette, Bowery Poetry Project, NY, NY
2009 Ghost Siege, Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY (with Andrea Stanislav)
2009 Firecracker, Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, NY (with The Fantastic Nobodies)
2009 Lasagna, or: How I learned to stop slipping towards the prison of permanent darkness, On The Boards, Seattle, WA (with Linas Phillips and Jim Fletcher)
2009 Get Me Out of Here, Yin Yue, Dance Theater Workshop (now New York Live Arts), Duo Theater, Tisch School of the Arts, New York, NY
2009 Rough, Rough, Ready, Catherine Slusher, Koln & Weisbaden
2007 Floor of the Forest, by Trisha Brown, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA (reconstruction)
2005-7 Dance for Seven, Zvi Gotheiner; Sky Light, Laura Dean; 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 since Andy published his essay on the topic last year, and through the various events–a pair of “White Cube & Black Box” discussions, “Ephemeral Evidence” at Exit Art–we’ve produced since then. 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