Best known for her intricately detailed paintings of fabric, for the past two decades Leeah Joo has explored drapery as subject matter borrowing from trompe l’oeil tradition infused with art history. According to the Naturalis Historia by Pliny the Elder, Zeuxis and Parrhasius of Ancient Greece held a contest to determine who is the greater artist. Zeuxis’ painted grapes attracted birds while Parrhasius fooled Zeuxis with a painting of a curtain. Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan observed that this myth reveals how animals are attracted to appearances while humans are enticed by the idea of what is hidden. Leeah’s paintings celebrate the allure of painterly illusion and Lacan’s take on our attraction to the concealed.


Born in Seoul in 1971 and raised by artist parents, Leeah knew from an early age, art will be her lifelong pursuit. At age ten, her family moved to Indianapolis and she attended Indiana University in Bloomington to study painting and art history. She continued her studies in New Haven, receiving an MFA in painting from Yale School of Art in 1996. Her work has been widely exhibited in United States and in South Korea with over 20 one-person and 50 group exhibitions including the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Wyoming Art Museum, Hangaram Art Museum in Seoul, Korean Cultural Centers of Los Angeles, Washington DC and New York.


She is the recipient of many awards and distinctions including grants from Pollock-Krasner, George Sugarman, Puffin, Berkshire Foundation and two-time Connecticut Artist Fellow. Since 1996, she has taught and lectured as visiting artist at many institutions including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City Art Institute, Maryland Institute College of Art, Hartford Art School and Fairfield University. Her work belongs in numerous collections both private and corporate including Sprint Corporation and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. She resides in Connecticut with her family where she divides her time painting and teaching at Southern CT State University and Paier College of Art.