BIO + CONTACT
Deb Leal is a multimedia artist, director, and photographer based in Oakland, CA. A third generation Chicana born in Corpus Christi, TX, her family relocated to Milwaukee, WI for work in the automotive industry. She received her education at a nearby suburb through a now discontinued lottery system that bused students across district lines; With a self selected focus in the arts from K4-12, she continued her studies at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design; in 2011 she graduated with a BFA in Fine Art Photography.
It is rumored that growing up in a Latinx Catholic family imprints a personal 'branding' that never leaves, even into an unpracticed adulthood. When shooting film, Leal picks moments in everyday life that feel solitary and ritual-like for her unknowing subjects; much like catching a glimpse of the trance-like gaze of a church going grandma thumbing her rosary beads . When she directs on set, the production design or the styling of the product itself lean towards what could be classified as 'minimalist baroque'. There's always a hint of obscurity with her knowing subjects-- some could say that Leal's 'Scorpio Moon' could be to blame for such secretive nature, but the judgement-ridden looming eyes of a priest in a dark wooden confessional can leave quite the impression.
Based in the Bay Area (San Francisco + Oakland) since 2013, Leal has worked a schedule within the service industry to pay rent while producing work and diving into an in-depth exploration of multiple mediums that she now practices today. In her off-time, she can be found hand embroidering commissioned denim jackets under her art brand, Handfast Hotel.
Her work has been featured in Vogue, InStyle, Remezcla, Condé Nast Traveler, and many more.