Contributer Carolina Gonzalez spotlights Lisa Leone's relationship with the young hip hop figures she photographed in the 1980s and 1990s, especially how her intimate friendships allowed her to capture intimate, unguarded images of future hip hop icons. The photographer says, ""A lot of the images I might have negated in the past became some of the strongest,” like the portrait of Snoop; or an under-the-tracks portrait of Isaac Hayes; or Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill on an East Harlem rooftop, in-between takes of their “Vocab” video."
The Bronx - Paris - Los Angeles - early 1990s - hip hop. This culture of music, dance, art and fashion is forever in its nascent and most authentic in Here I Am: Photographs by Lisa Leone. From Nas in the first studio recordings for what would become his iconic debut album Illmatic, to Snoop on the set of his first video, from ingénue Debi Mazar on the subway to Grandmaster Flash at a RockSteady reunion, Leone’s photographs open portals to the sounds, places and, most importantly, the people who forged and continue to influence the energy that is hip hop.
Bronx-born Lisa Leone began her career shooting musicians as well as personalities like Debi Mazar and Spike Lee. She worked for British Vogue and for VIBE, where she was a contributing photographer and columnist for two years. While shooting stills on a music video the director asked Lisa to shoot B roll; so began her career as a cinematographer. A few years later, Lisa began work on Stanley Kubrick’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut. Kubrick quickly became her mentor, with their shared Bronx history an important facet. Lisa continues to make her own work, and is currently Vice President of Artistic Programs at the National YoungArts Foundation.
The companion book to the exhibition - with contributions by Rosie Perez; Fred Brathwaite, FAB 5 FREDDY; Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, aka Nas; Mare139, aka Carlos Rodriguez; and Jorge "Popmaster Fabel" Pabon - is available through the Museum store.