Leonardo Drew is known for his dynamic large-scale sculptural installations, mostly wall artworks.
Drew actually lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. On the one hand, Drew’s sculptures can be seen as exercises in formalism rooted in the very experience of looking. On the other hand, these works explore memory by employing a wide range of material to evoke common elements of the human experience and of our diverse histories.
Drew has been making artwork since childhood, and first exhibited his work at the age of 13. He went on to attend the Parsons School of Design and received his BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and art in 1985. Since then he has shown in a variety of institutions from teh United States to Ireland and many other place.
Celebrated for tactile works that are rich in historical and cultural references, Leonardo Drew crafts sculptures and installations out of a mix of found natural and manmade materials that evoke urban living, humanity’s relationship with nature, and African American society, among other references. “Take a step back; the truth is right there,” he states, expressing his desire for viewers to engage with his pieces unencumbered by titles or explanations. His work is informed by his experience as an African American growing up in a public housing project. Urban detritus—including wooden scraps and objects from condemned housing and architectural sites, collected by homeless people he pays—figures in his compositions, together with tree branches, roots, paper, raw cotton, rust, and mud. Drew choreographs these materials into complex, textured forms that hold numerous stories.
Drew’s mid-career survey exhibition, Existed: Leonardo Drew, debuted in 2009 at the BlafferGallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston and traveled to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC and the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA. A monograph of his work was published in conjunction with the survey by Giles, Ltd., London.