New York City artist, Gwyneth Leech began drawing on her empty paper coffee cups during meetings in 2009. She quickly became addicted to the problems and potential of drawing and painting on the curved cup surface and the inexhaustible nature of the supply. In 2011 she first exhibited her cups as an installation of 250 discreet artworks suspended in the Fashion Center’s Window Space for Public Art on West 39th Street in New York City's Garment District. Her presence at work in the window was a significant part of the project.
In the fall of 2011, the cup project transferred
to the Flatiron Prow Artspace, 23rd and Broadway, NYC. The artist
was in residence working in public five days a week from September 2011 to February
2012, resulting in a final collection of 850 drawings and paintings on her used coffee cups. Subsequently, "Drawings 1-655" were included in
"Luxuriant Refuse" at the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Art, Spring,
Texas in 2012. In September 2013, "365: A Year in Cups", a
window installation for Anthropologie Regent Street, was a highlight of the
London Design Festival. In last two years she has created site-specific installations for City Without
Walls Gallery in Newark, NJ, and in NYC for No Longer Empty, Westbeth Gallery, Hewitt Gallery at Marymount Manhattan College and for the Susan Teller
Gallery. Her largest cup installation to date, "1001 Cup Stories" was shown at the Harris Building in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for ArtPrize 2014 and was voted in the top 10 art installations.
For over a decade, Leech has been exploring different ideas about public drawing: drawing in public view, drawing with the public, and getting the public to draw, often in venues outside the traditional gallery and museum system. She first drew in the public eye as part of Shiku Haku, a theater piece with Indalo Arts at La MaMa Theatre Club in 2000. In 2010, using the theme of family, she explored getting the public to draw in projects for the Pool Art Fair and for Figment’s summer festival on Governor’s island in NYC. Since 2011 she has drawn with the public as part of nearly all her cup installations, in New York City, NY; Cambridge, MA; Spring, TX; Grand Rapids, MI; London, UK and Edinburgh, UK, in venues as diverse as public art window spaces, pop-up and non-profit art galleries, public schools, retail spaces, a street art festival and a regional museum.
Prior projects include a series of alternative family
portraits in oils called Perfect Families. First shown at Franklin 54 Gallery
in New York City in October 2006, the exhibition traveled to the Southwest
Minnesota State University Art Museum in January 2007. The paintings were subsequently exhibited in a number of community venues in New York City including the Hudson Guild (2007), New York Public Library Columbus Branch (2009), First Presbyterian Church (2010) and at Stapeley in Germantown, a senior residence in Philadelphia (2010). A selection of the portraits was included in "All in the Family" at the Islip Art Museum, also in 2010.
Gwyneth Leech received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, and a BFA and Post Graduate DA from Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh, UK. The recipient of numerous awards and grants, including a Glasgow District Council's European Capital of Culture Project Grant, Scottish Arts Council Time Based Media Award, University of Colorado's President's Fund Grant, an Elizabeth Greenshields Memorial Award and a Thouron Fellowship, Leech's work resides in important private and public collections such as the American Museum, Bath, UK; British Broadcasting Corporation; Dumfries and Galloway Regional Council, UK; Edinburgh City Art Galleries; Royal Bank of Scotland; Strathclyde University, UK and the Theater Royal, Glasgow. Museum showings include the Southwest Minnesota State University Art Museum, Marshall, MN; the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Art, Spring, TX; The Mitchell Museum at Cedarhurst, Mount Vernon, IL; Peterborough Art Museum, Peterborough, UK; Ayr Art Gallery and Museum, UK; Kilmarnock Art Gallery and Museum, UK; Dundee Museum of Natural History, UK; and Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum, UK.