About Phoebe Legere
" The visual language of Legere is kissed by the light of the Dawnland and the alchemy of Abenaki iconography.
I am an interdisciplinary, two-spirit artist of Abenaki descent. I use Abenaki iconography and ancient indigenous stories to address contemporary issues.
My transmedia art operates in the space between ecology, engineering, painting, drawing, sculpture, alternative energy, dramatic text, projected visuals, dance, trans-genre music, performance art, new technologies and sculptural costuming; I announce new social formations, games & prophecies. I am a meta-gender and meta-genre artist. I create conversations that question performance, gender, and artistic norms.
My paintings spring from my Abenaki tribal heritage: We are dedicated to the art of family, faith, community, and love. We believe that when we disconnect from the Spiritual, we die. Our iconography is unique. We use patterns derived from the characteristic movements of fluids as expressed in the morphology of living things. These patterns, when deployed in traditional ways, have mystic and shamanic power. This is the visual language of the Great Mystery.
I use nontoxic, non-plastic paint, brushes, supports, and mediums especially cadmium free oil paint with lavender oil medium often mixed with egg to achieve fluid viscosity and transparency. I paint on linen and found materials. I have developed a non plastic non animal gesso formula that uses eco friendly glue, chalk and white pigment. I use it thinly to allow a color field type bleed in some places - I reach for the Spiritual in Art. I go thick and thin, fast and slow, lean and fat, anal and anarchist. My parents were very strict painting teachers who taught me old masters techniques. I was raised to believe that art is as important as life and death. My parents were brutally visual. My grandparents were musical. I have spent my whole life trying to interpenetrate art, music and performance. I often embed sensors and sound chips in my paintings. The physical presence of the viewer triggers a burst of my original music.
My art practice is a hymn of praise to the Creator and a life preserver for my sanity. Where would I be without my art? In a nuthouse or dead. I refuse to be pigeonholed into some reductivist marketing category. I am a madman who exists outside of time, space, genre and gender. I paint for myself and for the angels.
I celebrate the Biosphere, Hydrosphere, and Atmosphere of Earth. I paint celestial Mothers giving birth to cosmic creativity
My community service is an integral part of my artistic practice.
Phoebe Legere is multi-disciplinary artist whose art operates in the space between ecology, engineering, painting, drawing, sculpture, alternative energy, text, video, dance, music, performance art, new technologies and sculptural costuming. The Brooklyn Rail wrote: “Her existence infinitely incarnates artistic and human experience.” Legere studied at Vassar, theJuilliard School, NYU Film School, School of Visual Arts, and City College. Legere’s art teachers were Larry Rivers and Hilary Knight. Legere’s artistic development was driven by formative friendships with David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Jack Smith, Allen Ginsberg, Keith Haring, Ethyl Eichelberger, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rupaul, John Ashbery, Hunter S. Thompson and Peter Beard. PHOEBE LEGERE is the President and Founder of the Foundation for New American Art, a nonprofit that brings free music and art training to the children of low-income communities of color. Foundation for New American Art is the recipient of a 2022 “Challenge America” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Legere has received numerous awards including NYSCA, a Pulitzer nomination, an Acker Award for art and service to the Avantgarde and a recent YADDO Fellowship. She is a lecturer at NYU Gallatin School . In the summer she teaches Abenaki Aesthetics and Iconography at the Schoodic School for the Arts in Winter Harbor, Maine. Internationally respected, Legere's work is in museums and major collections throughout the world. Legere's art &music can be seen& heard through November at the Museum of Art& Design in NYC. Legere has a one person show opening March 2, 2023 at ART HAUS Gallery, Allentown, PA. Legere is Blick Artist in Residence at CHELSEA BLICK in 2023. Stop by the store to pick up a beautiful card designed by CHASHAMA and printed in full color at BLICK. Phoebe will sign your card at her opening July 1, 2023
Born to artist parents of Native American and French-Canadian descent in rural Maine and raised in Massachusetts, Phoebe Legere ran away from home at 15. Legere dreamed of becoming an artist in Manhattan's East Village. She quickly became a member of the downtown New York avant-garde art scene. Legere played music at night to support herself while she painted from live models during the day. She studied art with feminist art scholar Linda Nochlin at Vassar College. She was close friends with Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Jack Smith, Ethyl Eichelberger and David Wojnarowicz. Phoebe Legere invented an art form she calls "Total Art Synthesis." She has been described as a 'particle collider of new ideas about art and performance.' and 'the embodiment of the Divine Feminine.' Downtown Magazine wrote about Legere's visual art noting her "astonishing emotional range, subtle gradations, vibrant color, gorgeous drawing, design virtuosity, and highly original transmedia juxtapositions." Legere is of Eastern Abenaki and Acadian descent. The Abenaki of Maine have a deep relationship to the land. Legere blends Abenaki, Buddhist, Shinto, and Jewish myths to invoke a topology of the sacred. She says,"Every landscape, inner or outer, is the body of a living being, a symphony of light and dark. My father was my first painting teacher. He was a member of the legendary “Boston Expressionists” group. My mother was the Executive Art Director for Harvard and Bonwit Teller. I combine the Fine Art sensibility of my father with the Madison Avenue sophistication of my mother. My parents taught me design, taste, anatomy, oil painting technique, life drawing. Most importantly they taught me how to stay strong and hold my unique artistic vision in an increasingly soul-crushing world of conformity and standardization." Legere's training continued at Vassar College. She did graduate MFA work under Larry Rivers, the modern master renowned for his ability to combine a modern abstract sensibility with figurative realism. Her first passion as a painter was the female figure. "I am in love with the human form and all the emotions and ideas it can express." She calls herself an "Empressionist" - a nonbinary feminist artist who transcends both gender and genre. Phoebe Legere is a figurative and abstract, post-realist artist. Her groundbreaking installations, sculptures and performance artworks have gained her an international following. Legere is the President of a nonprofit called Foundation for New American Art, a 501 (c)3 registered charity that brings free art & music to children of low-income communities. All proceeds from sales of Legere art go to thewww.foundationfornewamericanart.org Less
Phoebe Legere (Yaddo Fellow, NYSCA Fellow, Medfield Cultural Council Fellow) graduated from Vassar College with a degree in Art. Legere was trained at: MFA Computer Art Program, School of Visual Arts -(Perry Hoberman Advisor-(2005); NYU Graduate School, CUNY, Juilliard, School of Visual Arts, deCordova Museum and Art Students League. Her art teachers include Larry Rivers, Hilary Knight and J. Philip Legere. Phoebe Legere is a Yaddo Fellow (2019), a NYSCA Fellow (2000) and was awarded an Acker Award in 2014 for her service to the Avantgarde and Underground Art community. Her academic appointments include: Visiting Professor, Gallatin School at New York University (2010-2020); Artist in Residence, University of Victoria, PhD program (2008); Guest Lecturer, University of Illinois (2007); Artist-in-Residence, Graduate School of Computer Art; School of Visual Arts, New York City (2006); Artist-in-Residence, University of Texas at Austin,( 2005); Guest Lecturer, University of South Florida, (2004)
Group Show, Baum School of Art, June 15, 2020, Live Auction
Schoodic Festival of the Arts, August 9, 2020
Barn Residency, Mount Desert Island, August 2-9, 2020
New York Underground Museum, Group Show, May 2021
Painting: Legere’s work has been shown and collected by major museums worldwide, including the following: “Tender Pink” and “In Praise of Body Hair” - Leslie Lohman Museum, New York - (2018); Art Basel - Erotic Museum (2017 )Group Show – Nyack Pride Invitational - Rockland Museum and Center for the Arts – (2018); “Howl Happening”- New York Underground Museum (2012) “Chromatic Wave” - Ciberart Festival Project Room - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain - (2005) “A Priori” (Solo) - Paterson Museum, Paterson, New Jersey – (2007); Pompidou Museum, IRCAM”S Resonances_Aux Festival, Paris (2004)
Performance Art: The Unrecognized Female Artist -Brooklyn Museum, Sackler Wing Opening (2007);”Joe Carstairs Story” - Dixon Place Commission (2018)
Installation Art - One Maryle Bones – London, England (2011); Thailand Digiart Festival (Museum of Contemporary Art Thailand) (Traveling)(2004-5)
In recent years, Phoebe Legere’s painting exhibitions have included: Yaddo(solo) : Portraits of my Fellow Yaddo Fellows and Ephemeral Performance, 2020, Howl Space, (group) New York (2019); Arts Garage (solo) -Delray Beach, Florida –(2018); Buttonwood Center for the Arts (solo) – Middletown, Conn. (2018) “Shamancycle” permanent installation - Nevada City Institute of Art – Nevada City, California (2016); New York Underground Museum (group) New York - (2006, 2010); Whitney Houston Biennial – (2017, 2019); Westbeth Artists Space, New York (2016); Pulse Festival - Miami, Florida 2015; Silk Gallery 2013, Fusion Arts – New York (2006); TNC Gallery – New York (2007 -2009), Location One, New York – (2007) Vered Gallery -East Hampton, NY (2000); Briggs Robinson Gallery - New York -2003 ; World Wide Gallery - Chicago 2002, “Video Wall” - Biennale di Venezia, Italy (1993); Charlie Finch Real Art Gallery (1991); “East Village Show” (Group) curated by Marguerite Van Cook (1990).
Legere is associated with the Rivington School, the Pyramid, Mail Art, Neo-Fluxus, 8BC, and the Fun Gallery…She has exhibited and collaborated with Larry Rivers, Jack Smith, Ethyl Eichelberger, Hunter Thompson in many legendary art spaces including Darius Gubala Gallery, Pyramid Gallery, Hallwalls, Gary Azon Gallery, No Se No, Rivington School, A’s Gallery, Storefront for Art & Architecture.
Her videos and digital installations have been shown at major Festivals worldwide including “Underground Festival” - Gay Village, Rome, Italy (2017) “Speculative Video Festival” - San Francisco (2005); “Really Big Festival” – Melbourne, Australia (2004); “Sydney Gay Mardi Gras” – Sydney - (2003); Vision Festival – New York (2002); Mixology Festival – Brooklyn/New York (2004-2009); Less