"The art of Hillary Leone and Jennifer Macdonald explores secret stories and embedded codes, alternately speaking and refusing to speak to its viewer...[The work] hovers between language and abstraction, between legible content and its evanescence."
Richard Meyer, Professor in Art History, Stanford University, DoubleFoolscap essay for the Whitney Museum of American Art
Handmade paper with watermark Each sheet: 17 x 27 in.
Iris water color prints Each print: 29 x 46 in.
The artists shredded, boiled, soaked, pulped, and pressed every article of clothing they owned - literally the fabric of their lives - into a thousand sheets of blank paper. Each sheet bears their watermark, an image of the double fool, inspired by a 15th Century paper size known as the Double Foolscap. The blank paper, like the fool’s empty rhetoric, is elegant, perplexing and replete with possibility. Enigmatic portraits of two figures, frozen in private acts, and a book cataloging the artists’ wardrobe evoke a range of narrative possibilities. In the tableau, framed by the grid of the paper, the contemporary artist plays the role of fool, at once mad and prophetic,
Fool with brush and mirror
Fool with scissors
Installation view, Whitney Museum
Sterling silver dice with safe dials, on custom wood base Dice: 1.25 x 1.25 x 1.25 in. With base: 44 x 13 x 18 in.
Odds (with base)
Video installation with 12 independently choreographed, moving images accompanied by an asynchronic sound track 9 x 12 ft.
The artists elicited “passing” stories from Miami residents - drag queens, welfare mothers, rabbis, and mall goths, among them, and wove first-person accounts of deception, performance and mis-recognition into a video installation that testifies to the glorious impossibility of a single story.
“Calling into question the relation between insides and outsides, truth and appearance, identity and identity politics, Passing documents the false promise of the visible that underwrites a culture of legibility.” — Amy Robinson, catalogue essay, Passing
Passing installation view
Passing installation (Dublin)
Composite screen shot
Passing (in production)
Passing (in production)
Branded shorthand on homosote 72 x 48 in.
Morals, Not Art or Literature
Venus in the Cloister, or the Nun in Her Smock
Girls Lean Back Everywhere
54 steel branding irons with sexual terms in Gregg shorthand, 54 steel extension rods Each iron: 8 ft. Gate: 16 x 26 ft.
A meditation on sexual abuse. Text wall contains voices of authority, written, rewritten and erased. Wish bone hangs just out of reach.
Bronze child’s chair with spike, bronze wish bone, paper, chalk, nails Wall: 11 x 32 ft. (variable)
Ashes, Ashes We All Fall Down
An AIDS memorial created for the First Day Without Art. The artists filled a charcoal-grey sandbox with 1500 pounds of sand and over the course of twelve hours, inscribed the names of the dead in Braille on the sand’s surface. From above, the piece reads like an aerial view of a ruined city. The act of reading the names in the sand - of touching the braille - erases the names forever. The piece takes its title from a nursery rhyme written during the time of the Plague
Braille on sand, bucket, shovel 60 x 60 x 14 in.
14 words in Gregg shorthand, branded on handmade paper Each 16 x 20 in.
Branded shorthand on muslin, in bed frames
Intercourse: 51.25 x 26.5 in. AIDS: 50.25 x 26.75 in. Kissing: 75.25 x 38.5 in. Drugs: 50 x 27 in. Condoms: 50.5 x 26.75 in.
Bed Frame Series Fire on muslin Each 32 x 24 in.
Bed frame series
Ink, coffee, poison file Drawing: each 9.5 x 9.5 in. Poison file: each 16 x 18 in.
Steel with bronze knobs Doorframe: 8 x 4 feet
Outhouse (detail of knob)
Outhouse (detail of knob)
Outhouse (installation view)
2 tons of recycled tire tread, light boxes, morse code Room size: 12 x 18 ft.
Handmade Straight Jacket
Wool 106 x 129 in.
Penumbra Umbrella: Steel 64 x 68 in.
The Garden Rake: Steel, fig leaves 96 x 24 x 1 In.
Steel, scale, bird’s nest 62 x 24 x 24 in.
Mixed media 9.5 x 24.5 x 8.5 in.
Braille on wet dry sandpaper 126 x 99 in.
A text, inscribed in braille, chronicles and critiques the inaccessibility of new AIDS drugs and in particular, a drug that arrests blindness-induced CMV infections. The 250,000 hand-punched braille dots, lit from the side and casting long shadows, are formed into the words AIDS and SIDA. The experience of being denied access is palpable: viewers are invited to “read” a text that is inaccessible to all but the blind on a surface meant to repel.
“The piece is a poignant manifestation of the conditions of misinformation and fear currently surrounding the AIDS epidemic.” - Gretchen Faust, Arts Magazine
Darn (and other Objects)
Darn Double-headed sewing needle, yarn 4.25 x 2.625 in., height variable
Chemistry Twin handblown champagne flutes with milliliter scale, on wood and marble base 19 x 19 x 8 in.
Shooters Welcome mat made of loose marbles 29 x 43 in.
Double Cross Silkscreen on wooden vanity Silkscreen: 5.5 x 4 in. Vanity: 11.5 x 34.5 x 11 in.