"Labour in Mali" was born from my love for the African continent, and particularly the extraordinary human adventure that I experienced in Mali. I chose to show with as much respect and admiration as possible, the beauty, courage, and dignity of these men and women facing a severe and trying challenges daily. These photographs show the hard and often misunderstood work exerted by these blacksmiths I encountered there. Here they are, far from the industrial civilization and modern technology, facing without choice, the daunting tasks of their profession.
Born in 1961, to American and French parents. Valerie Leonard has always been surrounded by a world of images. Her mother was a painter, and her father, internationally recognized photographer, Herman Leonard. Throughout his life, her father shared his passion for photography, his insatiable curiosity, his sense of context, and his love of beauty. Facing the enormity of talent, she had never dared ... However since his passing last year, something was released from inside. When she presses the shutter, she remembers the doctrine of her father: "Always tell the Truth, but in terms of Beauty". Valerie Leonard strives for her work to embody to this search for truth and beauty of human beings, whatever their origin or wealth. Far from seeking aesthetic or false compassion, she wants to show the dignity and courage of these women and men, in particularly hostile environments.