Leah K. Tomaino
LEAH K. TOMAINO received her BFA from Cooper Union, New York, and her MA from William Paterson University, New Jersey, both with concentrations in painting. She also studied at The Studio Art School of the Aegean, Samos, Greece. Leah is an Adjunct Professor at The County College of Morris, Randolph, NJ where she teaches Two-Dimensional Design, Three-Dimensional Design, and Drawing classes. She also is an art instructor of painting classes for adults and children at Artworks Studio. Leah has taught workshops at the Children’s Museum, SoHo, New York, NY, and has been a grant recipient from the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, New York, NY. Her work has been recognized by the National Association of Women Artists, as demonstrated by the NAWA Medal of Honor and Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation Award which was received in 2012. Tomaino’s work has been publically lauded for its unique pioneering collage technique and bold content by newspapers, various formal publications, and in-person television interviews. Her work has been widely exhibited in galleries, universities, and museums throughout the USA, and is in many private and public collections. Leah is a member of the National Association of Women Artists, New York, NY.
I am taken aback by the beauty and intangible qualities of natural flora. Our largely urban society has dulled the ability to appreciate our natural surroundings, the ability to see the wonder in a tree, the mysterious magic in a flower, and the resultant peace and contentment that can fill one’s heart. I try to show this to the viewer through my work as a surreal reminder of the peaceful, centered energy of the miraculous natural living world which surrounds us.
My artwork is made from simple materials and features a pioneering collage application of acrylic paint, brown paper bags, and canvas. Originally my collages had plain torn brown bags for their backgrounds, and only the subject was made from the painted bags. However, they have evolved to have their entire surface covered with the painted bag pieces.
I hope that the viewer thinks that they are looking at beautiful and serene paintings at first glance, then discover that they are viewing a collage that involved a painstaking genesis in the studio. Each is the product of many months or years of work. I paint the ordinary bags with color and tear them into myriad pieces, which I then hand apply with matt medium to realize my vision.
Inspired by nature’s beauty, my interest in this medium relates to the cycle of life and nature. The bags start out as trees and are made into paper bags, which I recycle, paint, tear, and collage into the image of the natural world which provided the original inspiration and energy.
In addition, the pieces are often autobiographical, and I am both relieved and tormented at placing my story in plain view.