Treasure lives amidst the rubble of lost neighborhoods. Mixed-media artist Elizabeth Leader found a discarded family album and transformed it into collages that capture the rise and fall of the Rust Belt, honoring the immigrants and refugees who built America. Discarded Ancestors is a unique and beautiful coffee table book that poignantly illustrates a vibrant era in the nation’s industrial past couched within its decline.
56 pages (10.75×8.75″)
ISBN: 978-1-942483-74-8 (hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-942483-73-1 (softcover)
Lyn Chimera –
I recently received a copy of Discarded Ancestors by Elizabeth Leader. The story of how the book evolved was so interesting that I kept reading until finishing the book. It captures the poignant story of family history lost by so many of us and renewed my interest in the old photo albums stored under the bed in the guest bedroom.
The art work itself is engaging and draws the reader to examine the details and intricacies on each page.
Lisa Sullivan –
This book may make you take a second look at all of those old photos you have.
Kathleen DeLaney –
Discarded Ancestors exudes kindness and love. Elizabeth Leader’s mesmerizing collages drew me in to the mystery behind them. Who were the people, especially Eleanor, depicted in the artwork? Through a few chance meetings and comments made at an exhibit opening, the giving spirit and curious minds led Ms. Leader to a remarkable answer. I enjoyed every minute of uncovering clues through rich illustrations and photos of “discarded ancestors” meant for a curbside legacy, and discovered a commonality among all immigrants who call Buffalo “home.”
Phyllis I. Thompson –
My interest in genealogy and old family photographs led me to order a pre-publication copy of Discarded Ancestors by Elizabeth Leader. I finished the book in one sitting. Ms. Leader layered photographs of decaying buildings with old family photographs left for trash to create intriguing collages that draw the reader in and prompt questions about the people and places. She shares the results of a research process that led to discovering the history of the family in the photo album. The layout of the book intermingles the collages with text to create a flow from beginning to end that keeps the reader engaged. After experiencing Discarded Ancestors, you may be encouraged to document and preserve your family stories for future generations.
Nicole Cooke –
Reflecting on a universal fear that our legacy may end with our lives, Discarded Ancestors begins with a found photograph of an unknown woman, and then takes the reader on an exciting journey of discovery learning about Eleanor Weinzierl. Through genealogical research, poetry, and multimedia collage, Elizabeth Leader invokes a strong sense of the passing of time, creating dissonance between our nostalgia for the past while asking us to consider whether Eleanor might have been disappointed by Buffalo’s ‘Rust Belt’ future. Leader’s use of found photographs is particularly striking in an age where many of us use digital technology to take thousands of personal pictures but rarely print them, let alone keep family albums. The reader can’t help but wonder ‘when I am gone, who will keep my memories?’ The collages of Discarded Ancestors create tension between light and dark by layering images of beautiful homes with weatherworn graffiti, vibrant young faces with fading newspaper clippings, and signs of past successes against present day decay. Such pieces as ‘You Don’t Even Know’ feel mischievous as a woman laughs while playing a small instrument to an audience of stone in a derelict underpass. This uneasiness is profoundly relatable as our great city is experiencing a renaissance that is also full of duality; together we look eagerly ahead to prosperity while we work vigilantly to rectify past and present injustices.
Kathy Gaye Shiroki –
Elizabeth’s genuine inquisitive curiosity took hold when she discovered discarded photographs and her passion to create brought life back into the captured moments.
Photo albums have a way of documenting and preserving family history. They also inspire sharing and togetherness by relatives when memories are retold in the vein of oral history. Elizabeth keeps this family’s story preserved as opposed to today where photographs are vaulted away in our small smart phones mostly never to be shared in the same way.
Thank you Elizabeth for keeping Eleanor’s family alive.
Mark Goldman –
Artist, Elizabeth Leader, looks behind the hidden and discarded
veils of one family’s lost history. Through “Discarded Ancestors”
we learn about this group of immigrants and the rise and fall and
rebirth of the city that they lived in.
What she has uncovered will inspire you take out those old neglected family
albums stored far back in the closet and discover the untold stories in your own family tree.
Erin Long –
We live in an age where we discard precious things, overlook our treasures, and so easily forget to live in gratitude of what we have. Elizabeth Leader’s book now sits on our coffee table by the fireplace. It constantly reminds me to cherish my own family’s history, actually print my iPhone photos, dig up old photos/treasures and keep them alive. The book also helps me remember to be conscious of what truly matters. Beautiful to the touch and beautiful on the inside, this book will be something we will cherish.
Nancy Tobin –
It’s appropriate that artist Elizabeth Leader found a very old photo album tossed away near an East Buffalo curb and made art from it.
That’s exactly what she does. Elizabeth has created a significant body of art using found objects and her own painted canvasses, all skewering desecration of nature and pollution of our waterways.
Her newest work of art is her just-published, “Discarded Ancestors.”
In this handsome book, Elizabeth uses 90-year old images from the old photo album to create a visual arc of an immigrant family’s life in Buffalo. An informative, beautifully designed and researched time-line further informs the family’s story. Printed with great care and quality, Discarded Ancestors is handsomely organized and designed. Holding it and turning the pages is a sensory pleasure.
Jayne Hughes –
Discarded Ancestors is a feast for the eyes and imagination. Elizabeth Leader takes us on a journey inspired by her curiosity as an artist. The story unfolds through pictures and poetry in a way that draws us in and makes us think of our own ancestry.
Becky Van Vleet –
Discarded Ancestors is an exceptional book which opens a portal to the past and lets us wonder about the future. Elizabeth Leader’s discovery of a photo album tossed on a street curb unleashes her desire to embark upon a personal project to preserve the photographs. What story can these photographs tell? Can we learn some history of past times? Partnering with librarian, Lisa Sullivan, a book is birthed which speaks of past American life that transcends the passage of years. The collages consist of bits and pieces of graffiti and old paper and wood with which Leader surrounds each discarded photograph to provide a context for the memories in a most unique way. No doubt readers will be inspired to preserve their old family photos in memory of those who have gone before them.