Zoe Leonard Is “Here After All”

Moira Donegan observes: ‘In The Fae Richards Photo Archive, one of the works in Zoe Leonard’s career-spanning show “Survey” now at the Whitney Museum, a viewer can trace the contours of a daring, unusual life. In a series of photographs, Richards, a black lesbian actress working in 1930s Hollywood, can be seen costumed in promotional shots for her films. She brings feeling and intelligence to roles associated with racist stereotypes—the disapproving maid in a ruffled apron in one comedy, an enslaved woman on her knees praying to God in a Confederate-nostalgia film called Plantation Memories. In other promotional photos, we see Richards made up and dramatically lit, cigarette smoke curling around her lips—these are from her early career, when she performed as a lounge singer.’

Leave a Comment