Joanne Lefrak makes drawings of places that are deeply embedded with history and meaning, such as spiritual and healing sites, pilgrimage sites, and ghost towns. No writing instruments or paper are involved in her drawings. Rather Lefrak scratches lines into Plexiglas, making an image apparent as a shadow on the wall behind it. Like etchings, the images are richly detailed, and the shadow effect lends depth to create a sense of infinite space. Trinity Site, in southern New Mexico, is the subject of a series of landscapes by Lefrak. She explains, “At first I was attracted to the historical narrative of the Trinity Site because…the resulting landscape after the atomic bomb was detonated is a kind of a physically ‘empty’ landscape yet completely not empty at the same time when considered within the context of our historical and current collective ideas of war.” Indeed, this landscape reveals little or nothing about the military-industrial complex that created it and that has used it as a place for advancing weapons of mass destruction. In Trinity Site (2013) the only sign of humankind in the landscape is a barbed-wire fence.
Lefrak’s work has been displayed in multiple locations, including Mass MoCA, Art Miami, and the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. She is director of education and outreach at SITE Santa Fe, a practicing teacher, and an artist and is active in the arts community in New Mexico. In 2014 Lefrak received the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. Her work was included in the 2016 (Infra) Structure exhibition at Lannan Foundation.