Rena Leinberger

Statement & Resume

Recent Works

Previous Works


"Fragment," wool, felt and brick, 15" x 66" x 3"


I focus my attention on architectural spaces and functional objects through interventions and alterations. I often shift materials, dislodge context or tweak scale to amplify the persistent anxieties that have become part of the landscape of contemporary living. I introduce absurd possibilities and create a sense of instability, disaster and ruination. In these fictive spaces that are at once deeply familiar and uncannily unsettling, the viewer confronts work that elicits both a physical and psychological response.

By sliding the work away from its utilitarian function, the work bumps against the edges of our perception and questions our own adaptability. It provides space to examine the strange beauty, wreckage and oddity of the world we build for ourselves.

Rena Leinberger, 2009

"Into the cellar," Mini dv video, color with sound, 5min 30sec., 2005

It will be enough:
I work with potatoes.  I sew and knit sculptures that cover and wrap potatoes, whittle sculptures that clean and remove potatoes, and photographs and film potatoes in absurd situations of excess and longing.

Evocative of farming, clothing, and the isolation of home, the works in It will be enough grow out of sickness, slowness and loss.  They are a collapse of hope, but also a belief in the power and necessity of sustenance.

Sometimes this sustenance comes in the most unexpected of ways: potatoes have often been the last resort in famine and war.   But their spread to worldwide cuisine depended on Spanish Conquistadors and a shipwreck that washed potatoes ashore to Ireland.

Potatoes are also very versatile and soothing: they can be boiled, steamed, fried, grilled or baked.  They can grow in cold and inhospitable soil.  They have some of almost every nutrient; it is possible to survive a long time eating only potatoes.


2002 M.F.A. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL
1998 B.A.    Anderson University, Anderson, IN
Awards, Grants & Residencies:
2013 Artist in Residence , Dickinson College. Carlisle, PA. In collaboration with Juanli Carrion.
2012 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) Swing Space Residency, NY
Creative Research and Projects Award, State University of  New York at New Paltz, NY
2011 Catwalk Institute, Artist in Residence. Catskill, NY
Creative Research and Projects Award, Architecture and Memory: Berlin. SUNY at New Paltz, NY
2010 threewalls Residency, Chicago, IL
2009 International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP), New York. Residency.
Full Fellowship sponsored by the Joan Mitchell Foundation
Creative Research and Projects Award, State University of New York at New Paltz
2004 AIM (Artist in the Marketplace), Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY
2002 Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant
2000 Scholarship Membership, ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL
Selected Exhibitions:
2016 ExPats, Indianapolis Art Center. Indianapolis, IN (Upcoming Spring 2016)
Luck of the Draw,
The Bubbler, Madison Public Library, Madison, WI
2014 From within the flesh of the world. Radiator Gallery, NY Curated by Eileen Jeng
Featured Artist Project: SP Weather Station. Center for Book Arts, NY
2013 BA Photo Intn'l. Video Program, curated by Rodrigo Alonso, Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Blonde Art Book Tour. Furthermore, Washington, DC.
Fields of Vision. Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art. Curated by Carl Van Brunt. New Paltz, NY. (Catalog)
Rena Leinberger: Zero Panorama, Georgia Southern Univ., Statesboro, GA. Curator: Marc Mitchell
Common Contexts, Goodyear Gallery, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA , with Juanli Carrion.
2012 Break/Step, Curated by Eileen Jeng. (Catalog) Radiator Gallery, Queens, NY
LMCC Open Studios, Governors Island, NY
Design Like You Give A Damn, Space fiftyfour. London, UK
2011 When it opens like this, up is not over. Commissioned by NYC DOT Urban Art Program; sponsored by International Studio & Curatorial Program. South Queens Plaza & Vernon Blvd, Queens, NY
Heat Island, Smack Mellon, Curated by Natalie Campbell, Brooklyn, NY
Iced. Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Staten Island, NY
25" RFP: included in Detroit: A Brooklyn Case Study. Superfront LA. Los Angeles, CA
Pretty Vacant: An Exhibition in a Modern Ruin, Curated by Carlos Little and Antonio Serna, Mathematics Collective. Brooklyn, NY
Groundwork: landscape, materiality and terrain, STOREFRONT, Brooklyn, NY
An exchange with Sol LeWitt, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art - MASSMoCA, North Adams, MA Curated by Regine Basha.
Rema Hort Mann Foundation, 8.5 x 11, Mariane Boesky Gallery, NY
2010 Still Action, curated by Elissa Papendick and Libby O’Bryan, in Process in Product: Summer Studio, organized by Mary Jane Jacob. Sullivan Gallery, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL
Conflux Festival, NY
Central City Artists Project, NURTUREart, Brooklyn, NY
NURTUREart, group show, Curated by Dan Cameron., ZieherSmith, New York, NY Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, MI
Invasive, Shirt Factory, Kingston, NY
Buy What You Love, Rema Hort Mann Foundation. Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY
Rena Leinberger: Piles of Sunshine, threewalls, Chicago, IL
2009 NEVERandAgain, ISCP, New York. Curated by Elissa Levy.
Open Studios, ISCP, New York, NY
Clusterf*#k, group show, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL
2008 John Davis Gallery, Elevator Shaft Installation, Hudson, NY

John Davis Gallery, Sculptures Choose Sculptures, Hudson, NY

2006 Bridge Art Fair, Miami, Zg Gallery, Miami, FL
Art Chicago, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL
2005 Zg Gallery, “Working Process: A Glimpse into the Artist’s Studio Practice,” group show, Chicago, IL
Bronx Museum of Art, “AIM 25,” Bronx, NY
Art Chicago, Butler Field, Chicago IL
Zg Gallery, “Rena Leinberger, It will be enough,” Chicago, IL
read reviews
2004 Queens Museum of Art, “Queens International, 2004” curated by Hitomi Iwasaki, Queens, NY (ctlg)
CUE Artist’s Foundation, “Joan Mitchell Foundation Group Show,” New York, NY (catalog)

Summer Show '04
, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL
Stray Show, Gallery 400, Chicago, IL

As Small As Possible, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL
Waiting, (with Ben Butler, as Lint) Evanston Art Center, IL
Compendium, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL
Catching Up With the Sun, Klein Art Works, Chicago, IL
University Show, Northern Indiana Arts Council, Munster, IN
At the Edge, Gallery 400, Chicago, IL
12 x 12, New Artists / New Work, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Sediment, site specific installation, collaboration with Ben Butler, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL
LAPSE, site specific installation, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL
Collectable, Northern Illinois University Art Gallery, Chicago, IL

2002 12" x 12", Group Show Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL
What is gathered, Installation, Gallery 400, Chicago, IL
Group Show, Gallery 2, Chicago, IL, Fall
At the Intersection of Sight and Sound, International Center Gallery, San Antonio, TX
Rift, Apartment 1R, Chicago, IL
16th Annual Evanston & Vicinity Biennial, Evanston Art Center, IL
Fittings, Storefront, Chicago, IL
January Group Show, Gallery 2, Chicago, IL
2001 November Group Show, Gallery 2, Chicago, IL, November
August Group Show, Gallery 2, Chicago, IL, August
2000 Good N Plenty, 1926 Exhibition Space,  Chicago, IL
Print + Mass, Gallery 2, Chicago, IL
Counter Productive Industries, 1926 Exhibition Space,  Chicago, IL
1999 Exchange Show, Atelierhof Kundseverk,  Bremen, Germany
ARC Members Show, ARC Gallery,  Chicago, IL
Faculty Alumni Show, Anderson University Gallery,  Anderson, IN
Selected Publications:
2012 Steve Mosco. Uncommon Beauty: Commissioned artist Rena Leinberger transforms industry in LIC with ‘When it opens like this, up is not over’. LIC Courier, Volume 2, No. 3, February 2012. Cover; pp 10-11.
Ridgewood Times, Sam Goldman.
From DOT Depot to Work of Art, February 9, 2012.
Queens Chronicle, Andrew Benjamin
. Urban art unveiled in Long Island City, February 9, 2012.
WNYC, Abbie Fentress Swanson
. FEATURES: Transporation Department unveils Urban Art Under the Queensboro Bridge, February 3, 2012.
NY1. Queens Urban Art. Airdate: February 3, 2012.
Transportation Nation. NYC Unveils Art on Construction Fence. February 3, 2012.
2011 Chicago Tribune, Photos: Museum of Contemporary Art: 10 years of ‘12 x 12’.  October 27, 2011.
L Magazine, Editor’s Picks. June 22 - July 5, 2011 | Vol 9 | No. 13
ArtSlant, Natalie Hegert. Dog Days,  July 3, 2011.
2010 The East Village Local, Carolyn Stanley and Alexa Tsoulis-Reay. An event where tech meets geography.  October 11, 2010.
2006 Fiber Arts, “Defining a Movement,”  Article by Jessica Hemmings, pg. 33, Sept./Oct. 2006, pictures
2005, “An Exhibition of Potatoes,”  Review by Victor Cassidy, April 5, 2005
Chicago Reader, “Potato Head, Interview with Rena Leinberger, Fred Camper, Sec. 2, March 4, 2005
The Brooklyn Rail, “Queens International 2004,” Review by Christopher Howard,  February 2005
Chicago Tribune
, “Rena Leinberger crafts an exquisite little gem,” Art review by Alan Artner, Feb. 25, 2005
New City, “Eye Exam: The Potato Lover,” Review by Michael Workman, pg. 18, Feb. 10, 2005
2004 Spotlight on Living Artists, Hardcover, by Ivy Sundell, Crow Woods Publishing, 2004
Cue Art Foundation Catalog, Catalog Essay by Gregory Amenoff, Joan Mitchell MFA Grant Exhibit Catalog, June 2004
Sculpture Magazine, “Waiting” Evanston Art Center, Jan. - Feb. 2004, picture
New City, “Eye Exam: Under Siege,” Review by Michael Workman, January 6, 2004
2003 Pioneer Press, Ellen Pritszker, “Take some time for Waiting,” October, 9, 2003
Chicago Artist’s Coalition News, John Brunetti, “Reclamation: Themes in the Work of Three Emerging Artist,” Oct. 2003
New City, “A House is Not a Home”, Review by Michael Workman, pg. 18, September 18, 2003
Mouth to Mouth Magazine, “Rena Leinberger”, Oral Report by Julie Farstad, Vol.1, No.4, pg 33, Summer, 2003
Chicago Tribune, “Collecting remains in the eye of the Beholder,” Lisa Stein, Art Scene, March 7, 2003
Collectible, Northern Illinois University Art Museum Gallery in Chicago, catalog, 2003
2002 Chicago Tribune, “Rena Leinberger,” Alan G. Artner, Art Reviews, October 18, 2002
Illinois at Chicago, College of Architecture and the Arts, Chicago, IL,  catalog, 2002
What is Gathered, Paul Burkhardt, Exhibition Essay, October 2002
Bridge Magazine Online, Rena Leinberger, Jeff M. Ward, September 2002
At the Intersection of Sight and Sound, San Antonio International Center, TX, catalog, 2002
Public Collections:
Dennison University Doane Library
Massachusetts College of Art, Godine Library, Artist Book Collection
Otis College of Art & Design Library Artist Book Collection,
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection
University of Utah Arts Library
Virginia Commonwealth University, James Branch Cabell Library, Book Art Collection

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