November 11, 2009  | 
Leslie Hewitt in New Photography 2009

Leslie Hewitt has a way with space. When I first saw her work (the series Riffs on Real Time at the Studio Museum Harlem), I liked how the pictorial space in the pictures was flattened, calling my attention to the photograph’s surface. Of course, we all know that photographs are two-dimensional, but they can be pretty convincing windows into a seemingly real world. In her work, Leslie counters this illusion by creating pictures wherein space is collapsed, compressed, or disoriented. I was not surprised to learn that she is also a sculptor, which can be seen in her methodical approach to image-making.

Leslie is also a collector of sorts. She rifles through her personal archive of family snapshots, magazines from the 1960s and 1970s, and treasured LPs and books to build arrangements to be photographed. Each item is chosen with great care, and the still lifes that she creates for the camera interweave personal memories with broader cultural histories. The pictures are not digitally manipulated, though evocative of the visual interplay usually attributed to Photoshop. They are temporary sculptural arrangements that are photographed using a film camera. One of the constants in her work is the snapshot. Snapshots are the popular currency of photography, and are the manifestation of the familiar impulse to document our personal lives. In this interview, Leslie discusses her affection for the snapshot and her accumulative process of image making.