Sunny Leerasanthanah was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. Her visual art practice spans photography, photo books, video, multimedia installation, and performance, ruminating on storytelling, personal family history, superstition, identity, placemaking, collecting, and memory.
In recent work, she documented her mother’s collection of worldly fridge magnets in a self-published book that debuted at Bangkok Art Book Fair 2020, titled Mom’s Magnets (2020). In 2021, she had 40+ photographic portraits of American artists of color published in the book We Are Here: Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art World by Jasmin Hernandez (2021). Along with the portraits are her images of artist studios and artwork. Most recently, she exhibited a commissioned video installation, Wuthichai (Exit Interview), in SculptureCenter’s In Practice show, You may go, but this will bring you back (2021). In this piece, Sunny invites Thai actors to step into the role of her deceased father to improvise answers to her questions. The work was awarded the Queens Council on the Arts 2021 New Work Grant.
Sunny received a BFA in film, photography, and visual arts at Ithaca College and an MA in arts administration from Columbia University.
Contact for CV.
︎︎︎She was the principal photographer for Abrams' upcoming book, We Are Here: Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art World by Jasmin Hernandez
︎︎︎Read her latest writing here:
An Artist's Mission to Preserve New York City's History of Lesbian Nightlife (Hyperallergic, August 27, 2019)
On view March 25 through August 2, 2021
Download press release here
Towards Tenderness was a 2017 two-person exhibition at Lubov gallery displaying works of and organized by Sunny Leerasanthanah and David Lurvey.
Pamphlet design by Stephen Lurvey
Install shots by David Lurvey
My Mother Doesn’t Know I Think Her Softness Is Her Strength
Print by Sunny Leerasanthanah
Carry Me Home
Exhibited at Myers Gallery, Columbia University, 2019
November 10, 2018
Workshop on handwriting and Thai superstition
Participants’ feedback - 001
Participants’ feedback - 002
Participants’ feedback - 003
1 I developed and guided a workshop on handwriting and Thai superstition during my time at rehearsal residency.
2 The workshop had a performative aspect which involved me weaving in a personal narrative through storytelling.
The personal narrative was based on things my mother taught me about how to practice handwriting with “good fortune”. The way you shape certain letters can indicate “leakage” of wealth, or the way you strike through your name can mean cursing youself to bad luck. Before the workshop, I consulted with her to confirm these beliefs of hers.
︎︎︎The purpose of storytelling was to mirror the act of passing superstition by word of mouth, something I experienced first-hand growing up. My mother made me practice writing my signature so that it would be “lucky”.
3 My mother’s superstition is not rare. In Thailand, belief in the occult or mystic has impressively thrived in the rapidly modernized country.
︎︎︎ I highly recommend reading this essay by David Teh about Thai contemporary art: “Return To Sender” (Artforum, Feb 2019)
Workshop image - 001
Participants’ feedback - 004
Workshop image - 002
Rehearsal Residency images
Portraits from the Abrams book
We Are Here: Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art World (2021) by Jasmin Hernandez
Portrait of KT Pe Benito
Portrait of Kia LaBeija
Even there, there are stars
Chitra Ganesh, Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski, Emily Oliveira, and Tuesday Smillie | Organized by Allie/A.L. Rickard
At CUE Art Foundation, NYC
Totem (2018) by Chitra Ganesh
Katrina Fimmel, Cirrus
At Lubov, NYC
LUBA DROZD: Soon enough roads will be rivers
At Lubov, NYC
Amy Ruhl, Between Tin Men: Gifts and Souvenirs
At Lubov, NYC
Formula 1: A Loud, Low Hum
At CUE Art Foundation, NYC
Carrier III (2019) by Laurie Kang
Limited Edition Risograph Print Book
Self-Published, August 2020
Photo courtesy Miriam Gallery
PURCHASE IN USA
via Miriam Gallery’s in-person or online store ︎
PURCHASE IN THAILAND
via Happening Shop’s in-person or online store ︎
Featured in Bangkok Art Book Fair 2020
Mom’s Magnets is Leerasanthanah’s typological documentation of her mother’s collection of magnets from worldly destinations. The souvenir magnet is exemplary of reducing culture, place, people, heritage, and politics to commodified kitsch. Patterns reveal the homogenous representations of marketable icons. Playful juxtapositions force a relationship between two seemingly unrelated symbols, like the Egyptian hieroglyph tablet and Britain’s telephone booth. Ultimately, the book contemplates the attempt to embody and possess place and time—a subject that resonates with Leerasanthanah’s past work. 2020
Printing/ Production: Risograph
Size: 14.859 x 20.955 cm
No. of pages: 32 pages
Edition of 100 copies
Homes Against Tides
STRANGE FEAR & ECSTASY
2016, Video Installation
5:22 min on loop
Footage credit: Cellphone video clips of drag performer Aaron Thornton (Vanilla Diamond) at Virginia Beach in 2015;
Archival footage by filmmaker Nelson Sullivan (1948-1989).
INSTALLATION PREVIEW: https://vimeo.com/225476297
Digital Video Projection on Glass Tank
INSTALLATION PREVIEW: https://vimeo.com/154914664
︎ PHOTO JOURNAL
NYC Chinatown 2021
FAMILY ARCHIVEImages from the 1970s from my aunt’s collection
At the end of the school year, my aunt and her friends gave each other professional headshots for safekeeping.