Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a woman embracing her inner strength and owning her power is an incredible thing to behold, and it’s even more evident when this moment inspires a tangible work of art for us to bear witness to. Local artist Leigh Brooklyn helps women find their inner warrior through her empowered forms of art, running the gamut from street photography, figurative drawing and oil painting to sculpture and welding.
Leigh graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art with a degree in Biomedical Illustration, with her work focused mostly on digital illustration and animation. She did freelance work for local hospitals and research facilities, honing her skills. Using her artistic background as a basis, Leigh explored other mediums and creatively made them her own. Through a lot of personal study and trial and error, Leigh taught herself to paint. Over the last few years, she understudied a sculptor to learn traditional sculpting techniques and became a certified welder last fall, with plans to use these skills to build armatures for sculpture and other metal works.
Leigh’s artistic process differs from medium to medium. She typically starts with a rough idea, then she searches for and creates reference material that she’ll use to make sketches. From there, she may create an intricately detailed, traditional oil painting or a sculpture. She is currently painting on grenades and other military equipment with a nod to embracing inner warrior strength.
“My current series, titled The Women’s Militia, was created at a time when I needed to surround myself with strong women. I had left an abusive situation and needed to find my inner warrior,” Leigh explains.
“My art saved me in many ways. I started to meet so many amazing, diverse women who I asked to model for my work. I would dress them as soldiers and take them to these abandoned urban landscapes full of graffiti where I would photograph them.”
Now, Leigh is using those images for paintings, drawings and sculptures. “During the shoots, we’d share our stories with one another, uplifting each other. It was amazing to see how the women’s demeanor would change when they dressed like a warrior. They stood taller, and I could sense their empowerment. It was really beautiful,” she smiles.
“Now it’s becoming this unifying thing that is bigger than the art itself. It’s very healing, validating and inspiring for a lot of people.”
To reach Leigh, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the artist and her work, visit LeighBrooklyn.com. You can follow along with her on Instagram @leighbrooklynart.