From 2013 through 2018, Leah Frances explored America’s real and imagined images of itself through the lens of her camera. Interested in the distance between commonly held ideas surrounding “Americanness” and the actual reality of daily life in this country, Leah examined these constructed perspectives, taking road trips to document traces of American cultural identity across as much of the country as she could reach. She found that the way she chose to frame the content of her photographs: to leave out what she wanted but also to include what she wanted could create a sort of displaced experience, an alternate reality both for the photographer doing the composing and for the viewer doing the looking. The resulting image could become a portal for the viewer, allowing for a flexible experience of time.
Leah Frances is the eye behind American Squares, an Instagram photography project that documents American cultural relics, iconography and identity. American Squares has over 21,000 followers and was recently mentioned by T, The New York Times Style Magazine, in their “Five to Follow” series. Frances’ work has been published by The New York Times Magazine, Us of America Magazine, the SFMoMa blog, Format Magazine, Feature Shoot, frankie magazine, Hemispheres Magazine and more and has been exhibited nationally and internationally.
As a Canadian-born photographer raised on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, her early proximity to the United States along with a steady diet of mid-century American cinema instilled in her a fascination for commonly-held concepts of “Americanness.” Now living in Pennsylvania, Frances carries a deep interest in identity—its roots, and its perceptions within a culture and across time. Photography, as her vehicle through this exploration, allows her to focus on small, striking moments and to create images that carry a persistent, quiet optimism. An immigrant, she uses her lens to capture relics, icons, and traces of cultural identity as a means of engaging in the distance between these ideas and the reality of daily life. Frances unearths a certain tenderness in our present by examining idyllic notions of America’s past.
Her first photobook will be available in the fall of 2019 via AINT-BAD, An Independent Publisher of New Photographic Art.