Photographer and visual artist Leah Beach is out to make her impact on the world. She was born in Dover, where her mother’s family had a farm. Her father and his family came from Lewes, so “I’m a Delaware girl through and through.” But her passion for photography and what it can uncover and document has taken her abroad, especially to Kenya, which seeded the idea for her non-profit the Developing Artist Collaboration (DAC) as well as her Global Dementia Project.
Always interested in photography, Beach first developed her eye and her skills in high school, and then she continued to hone her vision through her work as a photographer’s assistant. In 2011, she graduated from Wilmington’s Delaware College of Art and Design. As a student, she was always interested in the fundamentals of art which allowed her to gain the skills to become a successful fine artist and mural artist with artwork in over 25 businesses and countless homes in Sussex County.
Beach is passionate about human rights and determined to effect social change – and people’s perspectives – through photography. Her award-winning Global Dementia series of photos from five years of work documenting global dementia, as well as malnutrition and women’s empowerment in developing countries. In this series – and all her work – Beach seeks to show challenging subject matter in an honest light, focusing not only on trouble and anguish but also showing the resilience that her subjects radiate as they meet their challenges. She believes empowering the subject and ensuring their story is told with dignity and respect is the most important aspect of her work.
While working in Kenya, Beach discovered how impactful art could be in the developing world. Implementing her own community development programs helping out with mentoring mothers for malnutrition using simply graphic design skills to create resources, as well as using photography to photograph a women’s group handicrafts to create a catalog to export their goods. She discovered that being an artist and knowing basic fundamentals of art could change a community. This idea sparked her to begin the Developing Artist Collaboration, formally the Dewey Artist Collaboration in 2016 which originally was founded with 12 artists just trying to figure out how to get their art into the community. The DAC has now served over 175 artists and has an innovative model directly inspired by arts and community development.
The DAC is a community artists non-profit dedicated to enhancing the careers of artists by providing valuable resources and opportunity, while encouraging them to give back to their community through skilled volunteering via DAC programs that provide creative community development and cultural enrichment to Sussex County and beyond. They empower the careers of artists through the Artist Development program by providing professional development, resources, innovative studio and communal space, group critique, as well as presentation opportunities. They allow artists to pay for these or they can volunteer their time with their Sustainability program and Art Reach program. Art Reach is where DAC partners their artists and volunteers with schools and other vulnerable populations to create art therapy initiatives as well as murals and beautification projects. The Sustainability program is the events that raise money for the DAC, inclusive of the Dirty Hands DIY (do it yourself) program which generates income for the Art Reach and Artist Development initiatives. Our goal is to expand this model beyond Delaware and one day partner artists with organizations in the developing world to empower organizations on the ground, from medical teams to community outreach, with creative resources.
Beach is passionate about growing and evolving the DAC and is also working on various projects in partnership with multiple organizations with her photography. While she is home, she enjoys doing murals and large scale paintings of animals.