Leah Schrager is a digital artist and online performer. She is the model, photographer, artist, and marketer in/of her images. Her visual works apply a painterly aesthetic to bodily forms and often draw their material from her conceptual online practice. Her online performances are @OnaArtist (Instagram 3m) and Sarah White (The Naked Therapist). With these performances, Schrager explores themes of sexuality, representation, and distribution. Her practice is situated in a contemporary hotbed of female (in)appropriateness, arousal, celebrity, fandom, and commercialism that seeks to explore female biography and labor in today’s global society. 

Schrager has been compared by journalists to such seminal figures as Marina Abramovic, Marcel Duchamp, Laurel Nakadate, Diane Fossey, and Sigmund Freud. She and/or her work has been profiled in 1000′s of media outlets, including Art Forum, Monopol, The Huffington Post, Vice, Viceland, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, CBS News, ABC News, The NY Daily News, and Playboy. She has exhibited with Johannes Vogt Gallery, Castor Gallery, Untitled Space, Roman Fine Art, ArtHelix Gallery, and the Museum of Visual Art in Leipzig.

CV

Lives and Works in Brooklyn, NY

EDUCATION

2015    MFA Fine Arts, Parsons, The New School, NY
2007    BA Dance & BS Biology, summa cum laude, University of Washington, Seattle

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

Solo Exhibitions
2019    Manifestations, Roman Fine Art, East Hampton, NY
2016    Glitter Peach, Miami Beach Cinemateque Gallery, Miami, FL
2015    The Male Gayze, Stream Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2012    Am I not Art/Ist, Hotel Americano, New York, NY
2010    Pretty | Whatever, The Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA

Group Exhibitions
2019    A Doll’s House, Goethe-Institut, Baku, Azeraijan
2018    Virtual Normality – Net Artists 2.0, Museum of Visual Art, Leipzig, Germany
2017    Last Night, Castor Gallery, New York, NY
2017    Art On The Edge, Roman Fine Art, East Hampton, NY
2017    Screen Present Tense, HDLU, Meštrović Pavilion, Zagreb, Croatia
2017    Bad Sex Bad Sex, Novella Gallery, New York, NY
2016    Summer Fling, Johannes Vogt Gallery, East Hampton, NY
2016    Adult Material, Andreas Schmidt Gallery, Berlin, Germany
2016    The Celebrity Project, Year 1, Superchief Gallery, New York, NY
2016    Digital_Luv<3, Blogfabrik, Berlin, Germany
2016    Ex Nihilo, Nihil Fit / Out of Nothing, Nothing Comes, White Circle Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
2016    Process Portraiture, UT Gallery, Knoxville, TN
2016    In The Raw: The Female Gaze on the Nude, Untitled Space, NYC
2016.   Beaver, Center For Performance Research, Brooklyn, NY
2015    Off Pink, The Kitchen, New York, NY
2015    Life Glitch, New Hive, online
2015    Under the Seams Runs the Pain, Bruce High Quality Foundation, New York, NY
2015    Foursome, Gallery Sensei, NYC
2015    Second Selves, Distillery Gallery, Boston, MA
2015    Synthetic Zero, Bronx Art Space, Bronx, NY
2015    FE:Body, 25 East Gallery, New York, NY
2015   Actions & Intent: Documentations in Performance, NARS Foundation, Brooklyn, NY
2012    Google Part 1, Chashama Gallery, Queens, NY

Art Fairs
2019    An American Dream, Roman Fine Art (solo) at Scope Art Fair, New York, NY
2019    Garden of Eden, Untitled Space, Spring Break Art Show, New York, NY
2018    Female-Friendly, Roman Fine Art (solo) at Scope Art Fair, Miami, FL
2018    Art Helix, Scope Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland
2018     Art Helix, Scope Art Fair, New York, NY
2017    The Celebrity Project, Year 2, Spring Break Art Show (solo), NYC

 

SELECTED PRESS

Highlighted:
2019    Lakin, Max. “Leah Schrager is an Ethnographer of the Extremely Online.” Garage. July 15.
2017    Lehrer, Adam. “On Sex Positive Selfies, Instagram Fame, and Naked Therapy.” Forbes. April 25.
2017    Genova, Alexandra. “Exploring the Blurred Lines between Celebrity, Sex and Art.” Time. May 2.
2016    “Extreme Body,” Monopol. March. Print cover.
2015    Fateman, Johanna. “Women on the Verge: Art, Feminism, and Social Media.” Artforum. April. Print (view pdf).
2012    Sutton, Benjamin. Nude Art Controversy Raises the Question: Is it Art, Or is It Naked Therapy?” Artinfo. May 10.

More:
2019  Cascone, Sarah. “This Instagram Artist Isn’t Mad That the Internet Made a Meme Mocking Her Racy Selfie Shoot—She Just Wants to Be Tagged.”  Artnet. July 15.
2019  Meier, Anika. “Selfie Performance by Leah Schrager “No One Says: You See Art”.  Monopol. July 21.
Whitehot, McVey, Kurt, “Manifestations” 2019
Monopol, Anika Meier, “Instagram Performance” 2019
Scope Newsletter, (Sellout Booth) 2019
Glamour, Kate Friedman, “Meet Leah Schrager, Our Summer of Sex Artist-in-Residence,” 2017
Elephant, David Evans, “The Borrowers: Copyright and its Discontents,” Spring 2017, print
Cascone, Sarah. “The ‘Weinstein Effect’ Flooded Miami Beach with Feminist Art – But Will it Last?” Artinfo. 2017
The Art Gorgeous, Centerfold, Issue #1 Spring 2017, print
RUSSH, Edwina Hagon, “Rise of the Fourth Wavers,” Feb/March 2017, print (pdf)
Glamour, Summer of Sex Story Lead, July 2017, print
Hestetika, Marco De Crescenzo, “L’Esperienza Del Nudo,” April 2017, print
Dazed and Confused, Anna Freeman, “How to Create a Famous Instagram Alter-Ego,” 2016
Huffington Post, Priscilla Frank, “These Women Are Their Own Damn Muses,” 2016
Vice, Rachel Rabbit White, “Hot Girl Art,” 2016
The Creator’s Project, Alyssa Buffenstein “20 Female Artists’ Perspectives on the Nude” 2016
Huffington Post, Priscilla Frank, “Who’s Afraid of the Female Gaze?” 2016
Bustle Magazine, Kristen Sollee, “Sex Positive Feminist Artists To Know,” 2016
Art Slant, Christian Peterson, “Artist of the Week: Leah Schrager,” 2016
Widewalls, Lorenzo Pereira, “Radically sexual feminist art we need to remember,” 2016
Inside Art, “The Selfie as a form of power,” 2016
Art Report, Adriana Pauly, “Leah Schrager Confronts Sexuality in Feminist Art,” 2016
Dazed & Confused, Charlotte Jansen, “Meet the trailblazing women producing disruptive online and real life art, all of which is making more of an impact than you think,” 2016
Elephant Magazine, Charlotte Jansen, Girl on Girl, On Nipples, 2015
Konbini, DJ Pangburn, “Life Glitch: An Artistic Exploration of Our Lives as Digital Archives,” 2015
Dazed & Confused, Ashleigh Kane, “Instagram is a new gallery space for these US female artists” 2015
Rhizome, Josephine Bosma, “Sabotaging Big Daddy Mainframe, via Online Exhibition,” 2015
Animal NY, Prachi Gupta, “Artists Reclaim Their Bodies in New Online Exhibit,” 2015
Spook Magazine, Emma Marie Jones, “Reclaiming the Female Nude,” 2015
Dazed and Confused, Monique Todd, “The Digital Artists to Keep Your Eye On,” 2015
Vice, Sean J Patrick Carney, “I Went To Naked Therapy™,” 2014
Culturebot, Jeremy Barker, “Can Un-Licensed Therapy Be Performance Art? Can Prostitution?” 2012
DNAInfo, Huffington Post, Matthew Katz, “‘Naked Therapist’ Exhibit Booted from West Chelsea Art Festival,” 2012
NY Magazine, Noreen Malone, “Is ‘Naked Therapy’ Art or Commerce?” 2012

Girl on Girl: Art and Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze, Charlotte Jansen, Lawrence King Publishing, 2017, (book)

Further ONA press viewable here.
Further Sarah White press viewable here.

PANELS

2018    Dismantling the Gaze, International Center of Photography (ICP) Museum, NYC
2018    #NSFW: Feminist Artists on Sex & Digital Identity, South by Southwest (SXSW), Austin
2017    Self-Institutionalizing, Cue Art Foundation, NYC
2016    The F-Word alongside Black Sheep Feminism: The Art of Sexual Politics, Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, TX
2016    The F-Word, Franklin Street Works, Stamford CT
2015    Artist as Curator, The Swiss Institute, NYC
2015    Body Anxiety Comments Section, Bruce High Quality Foundation, NYC
2013    Sex for Success, Jeff Probst Show, (TV)
2012    Online Therapy… Naked?, South by Southwest (SXSW), Austin
2011    Wiener: Rehab or Resignation? with Andrew Breitbart, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Tracy Byrnes, Fox Business News (TV)

WRITINGS & PUBLICATIONS

Self-Made Supermodels: On Being an Instagram Model as a New Form of DIY, Digital, Feminized Performance, Published in Rhizome, by Leah, 2016
Pay the Nipple by Ona, 2015
The Female Painter by Leah, 2015
The Ona Generation, 2014
Am I Not Art/Ist by Sarah White, 2012

PERFORMANCES (in others’ works) + DANCE

2015 Hello, Selfie!, Pulse Art Fair Miami Basel (with Kate Durbin)
2012 Revenge of the Fantastic Nobodies, White Box Gallery, New York, NY
2012 Eve Democracy, Lower Manhattan Cultural Center, New York, NY (with Andrea Stanislav)
2011 Live After Birth, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY (with the Fantastic Nobodies)
2009 Ghost Siege, Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY (with Andrea Stanislav)
2009 Lasagna, On The Boards, Seattle, WA (with Linas Phillips and Jim Fletcher)
2009 Get Me Out of Here, Yin Yue, DTW / New York Live Arts, Tisch School of the Arts, New York, NY
2007 Floor of the Forest, by Trisha Brown, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA (reconstruction)
2005-7 Chronicle, Martha Graham; Tensile Involvement, Alwin Nikolais; Liebe, Dore Hoyer; There is a Time, José Limón; Brahms Waltzes, Charles Weidman; Primitive Mysteries, Martha Graham; Chamber Dance Company, Meany Hall, Seattle, WA (reconstructions)

 

A Few Reviews

“Leah Schrager’s meditation on her performance of celebrity as an arts practice was our most-read WWAOTW column in 2016. Writes Christian: ‘Schrager’s deceptively complex brand of feminism, expressed through the unashamed sexuality of her beautifully abstracted self portraits, makes her voice unique among new media artists.'” Artslant, 2017

“New York City-based Leah Schrager has been described as “ a woman of her time”. Why? This multifaceted artist is battling against and commenting on a number of contemporary issues from the male gaze and digital censorship to celebrity culture, digital identity and sex. By using and photographing her own body as an art object through an alter ego called “Ona”, she reclaims her identity, her body, and her sexuality in racy selfies.” The Art Gorgeous, 2016

“In terms of contemporary art, Schrager’s hybridization of various practices including performance art, social practice, the internet as context/interface, and solicited audience participation makes the work interestingly difficult to define concretely. More often than not, performers struggle to entice their audiences into participating…What’s fascinating is how Schrager has exploited the male gaze to garner participants who are willing to pay their own money to contribute to the development of her project. It’s a coy and, frankly, economically taut method to approach interactive performance work while avoiding actual individual exploitation through maintaining the valued anonymity of her participants (I’m looking at you, Laurel Nakadate).” – Sean J Patrick Carney, Vice, 2014

“Aforementioned bathroom–selfie–taker par excellence Schrager also appears in The F-Word as the Naked Therapist, a project that sees the artist take on the role of a shrink who slowly undresses during the session. Men actually hire her to do this; thus, as the Naked Therapist, she appropriates the male gaze for profit and sells her image as a cam–girl for social and monetary capital. She elevates sex work to the level of post-modern art simply by asking it to be viewed as such. Of all the young artists featured, Schrager’s work leaves her viewers most unsettled.” … “These porno-critical works smoothly read as “feminist,” while Schrager’s work sits in a more uncomfortable—perhaps more honest—contemporary truth about the place of women in the art world. Schrager revels in her sexualized power and abject labor and uses it as a conceptual segue to address not only issues of agency but to also sub–textually address which bodies are privileged over others.” – Rachel Rabbit White, Broadly, 2016

“The problem, according to the event organizers? The performance seemed like “self-promotion,” rather than art. Those are mutually exclusive now? Have they looked around the art world lately?” – Noreem Malone, NY Mag, 2012

“Schrager, in her text, coins the term man hands for the phenomenon by which wom- en’s images of themselves accrue status and art market value when used by male artists…. As Schrager writes, the artists’ “bodies appear as fantasies, mutations, glitches, nightmares, mundanities, dating profiles.” All content morphs and mutates online; it’s an assumption implicit in these artists’ work. If they practice mirroring as a critical strategy, they are mirroring not only tropes of representation but the ways in which those representations morph and mutate, move and shift, the way they are used. The flux, trickery, and metamorphoses that are a staple of online and IRL fantasy worlds are present in “Body Anxiety” as both aesthetic and critical tactics.” – Johanna Fateman, Artforum, 2015

“A resonant voice in the new feminist art wave, Schrager’s work often triumphs sex positivity by reframing the power dynamic between model and photographer and challenging the notion that provocative imagery is less than art.” – Margaret Bechtold, A Woman’s Thing, 2016

“Anyway, the gallery’s rather gross dismissal of the project as a “commercial venture” certainly carries the stigma that White is really nothing but a prostitute, of either the literal (see above) or figurative (why is it now “art”?) variety. (And just to be clear, I don’t think White is a prostitute in either capacity.) Either way, it was deemed not art, using former Supreme Court Justine Stewart Potter’s infamous and thorough, “I know it when I see it” test. It would be all too easy to make jokes at White’s expense, and it’s quite possible that it’ll feature in some late night talk show monologue soon enough. But really, this ignores the actually challenging questions raised by White’s practice: Does it qualify as art? Without regard to whether it constitutes good or valuable art–a judgment I’m not qualified to make–the answer, from my perspective, is that it most definitely does qualify as art. In fact, the debate touches on one of the central critiques of performance in the visual art world that we’ve been exploring … Namely, the visual art world, whether commercial galleries or non-profit museums, is essentially object-, and therefore commodity-, oriented. And the hyper-capitalism of the visual art market these days, with record-breaking sales that led New York‘s Jerry Saltz to recently proclaim it a “nasty” “disgusting” “freak-show,” exacerbates the problem; how, given the crass commercialism of the entire field, can a curator credibly claim that one practice is commercial in an acceptable way, while another is not?” – Jeremy Barker, Culturebot, 2012

“Sophie Calle in reverse” – Vanessa Place, 2018