Leonardo Drew was born in Tallahassee, Florida in 1961, and grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Although his sculptures are often mistaken for accumulations of found objects, they are instead made of “brand new stuff”—materials such as wood, rusted iron, cotton, paper, and mud—that he intentionally subjects to processes of weathering, burning, oxidation, and decay. Memories of his childhood surroundings—from the housing project where he lived to the adjacent landfill—resurface in the intricate grids and configurations of many of his pieces. Whether jutting out from a wall or traversing rooms as freestanding installations, his pieces challenge the architecture of the space in which they’re shown. Drew’s pieces hover between order and chaos, as he choreographs arrays of color and form.
Drew attended Parsons School of Design, and received a BFA from Cooper Union (1985). Among the honors and grants he has received are the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize (2011); Asian Cultural Council Grant (1997); Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (1994); and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Grant (1993).
Drew’s public collections including that of the Brooklyn Museum; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Miami Art Museum; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville; the Sorigue Foundation Collection, Lérida, Spain; the St. Louis Art Museum; and Tate, London. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.