About me


Kirsten Leenaars is an experimental documentary maker and engages with individuals and communities to create participatory video and performance work. Her work oscillates between fiction and documentation, reinterprets personal stories and reimagines everyday realities through staging, improvisation, and iteration. Leenaars examines the nature of our constructed realities—the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we identify with—and explores the way we relate to others. In her work, she aims to bring to light a shared humanity, often through humor and play. Recent projects include (Re)Housing the American Dream – a multi-year performative documentary project with American born and refugee youth commissioned by the Haggerty Museum of Art in Milwaukee, and Notes on Empty Chairs, a series of three performances about loss, community, and empathy, produced for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in response to the work of Doris Salcedo. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, at venues including the Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City; the District of Columbia Arts Center, Washington DC; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Glass Curtain Gallery, Threewalls, Gallery 400, and 6018North, Chicago; Elaine L. Jacob Gallery, Detroit; Printed Matter, Inc., New York; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; and Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin. Leenaars has received multiple grants from the Any Warhol Foundation; The Mondrian Fund; cultural support grants from the Dutch Consulate in New York, Milwaukee Art Board Production Grant. Leenaars has been nominated for the 3Arts Award, multiple times and most recently was nominated for the USA Fellowship. She currently is an Associate Professor in the Department of Contemporary Practices and the Performance Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.