Allison Leach 

Bi-Polar ExplorerAllison Leach

Vasco de VoodooAllison Leach

Hardscabble HattieAllison Leach

Emil Von EarsichAllison Leach

Lyle of ArabiaAllison Leach

Bear Market WarriorAllison Leach

Lord Chester GreedAllison Leach

Shy SavageAllison Leach

Boris Pissed-ovskyAllison Leach

Sexy Beast
Allison Leach

(845) 633 8519

Artist Statement

Misfit Explorers is a series of photographs depicting fictitious explorers of my creation who never got anywhere nor found anything. I have based my reenactments on a mixture of actual failed explorers (Scott, Livingstone), amalgamations of incompetent historical expeditions (Franklin Expedition, Donner Party), and fantastical disasters of my own whimsy. My constructed photographs examine both the hubris of Western exploration and, reflexively, the power of photography itself.

During the Heroic Age of Exploration, around the turn of the twentieth century, photography was used by Western explorers as an ethnographic tool to document what they viewed as the exotic and “primitive” natives they encountered on their travels. Conversely, the explorers must have seemed completely absurd and bizarre to the indigenous peoples they were "discovering", especially in the case of individual explorers falling victim to the peculiar colonial-weakness of “going native" (whereby an explorer attempts to appear less threatening, or even dupes the natives, by adopting their customs and appearances).

My photographs create the fantasy of my explorers being “discovered” themselves, offering evidence to us of the illegitimacy of foreign conquest and the nonsensical notion of cultural hegemony. By turning the lens around onto my incompetent, invading explorers, and using their same cold, analytical ethnographic-style of photography, I expose our Western imperialistic ambitions to scrutiny and ridicule.


Allison Leach (born 1963, Houston, Texas) is an artist specializing in conceptual character portraits living and working in upstate New York. Her work has been exhibited in London and New York City, and is represented in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum (Washington, D.C.).

Leach is a MARK10 artist of the New York Foundation for the Arts. She has received numerous awards for her commercial portrait work, including publication in several Communication Arts photography annuals. She has been commissioned by Vanity Fair, Time, Fortune, Interview, Esquire, The New York Times Sunday Magazine(among others), and served as a Contributing Photographer for People Magazine for seven years.

She received a B.A. in Art/Art History from Rice University, and also studied at Bristol University in Great Britain and the British Institute of Florence in Italy.