About Rollin

Rollin Leonard is a portrait and new media artist. Having photographed more than 3,000 human subjects, he makes photographs via original methods he invents and hijacks, such as bending light with water to make “Water Portraits,” projecting faces into cylindrical maps of skin, shuffling pixels with algorithms, or blending flat images into round objects. 

For the last four years, Rollin has worked with photography and water to create his “Water Portraits.” He pushes the limits of water as an optical tool by using laser cut plastics, etched glass, hydrophobic materials, oils, liquid vinyl, resin, humidifiers, spray bottles, and syringes. While the resulting images are essentially unaltered out of the camera.

Rollin also makes digital animations, such as his “Mud Puddle” series. His animations are also portraits--moving ones--created by etching glass and coating it with water-repelling material. Leonard makes thousands of little “masks” that force the water into specific shapes on glass. Each water shape refracts the faces or images underneath. Like his “Water Portrait” photo-sculptures, Leonard’s methods are labor-intensive and largely analog, although the resulting animations can look computer-generated and futuristic.  

Raised in Wisconsin, Rollin now lives in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at The Photographer’s Gallery in London, Museum of the Moving Image NYC, Bitforms Gallery NYC, Transfer Gallery NYC, Postmasters Gallery in NYC, Haus Der Elektronischen Künste Basel, Carnegie Museum of Art, SFMoMA, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the CMCA Museum in Maine, and the Whitney Museum in NYC, and elsewhere.