Roz Leibowitz's drawings are influenced by her collections of nineteenth and twentieth century ephemera, which she has gathered throughout her life with an eye towards the inconsequential, overlooked and simply discarded. In her view, "items contain the memories of their makers and all items have secrets to share." This view of a vibrant, multi-dimensional, ever-changing universe animated by souls, ghosts, essences and delights is an ancient idea, stretching back from the Platonists through the romantics, all the way to the eccentric sisterhood of Victorian spiritualists. Leibowitz believes we deny this vision at our own peril. Shadowland is an exhibition of her most recent efforts to capture on paper what she describes as “marvels” – the small fleeting miracles that occur in everyday life. Leibowitz is enthralled by the mystery and wonder in these occurrences and is compelled to draw in order to record them.
Her elaborate works of dreamy patterns and decoration are drawn on paper culled from the vintage letters, ledgers, trade catalogs, dental charts, menus, roadmaps, and any other bit of ephemera she collected during her twenty-year tenure as a librarian in Manhattan and Queens. Beneath the layers of patterned ink and pencil drawings are glimpses of text that draw the viewer deeper into the artist’s ambiguous world. The simplicity of her tools – pen and pencil – belies the intricacy and complexity of her drawings.
Women and patterns are the central elements in Leibowitz's work. The women, from the Victorian spinster to the stout housewives of the last century, "act as conduits to this shadow world," Leibowitz says. "I consider them characters playing out their roles in an alternative reality.” The women in her work are actively observing while being observed; they are connected to our world through the artist’s fanciful windows and portals. The patterns, Leibowitz admits, "seem to have taken on a life of their own." In some works, these patterns simply act as detonators, pushing a mundane object or scene into a world of charged beauty.
Roz Leibowitz, a native New Yorker, currently lives and works in Manhattan.