Leighton Pierce is an artist and a committed educator grounding his work in an examination of how one can use art, or video and sound in his case, to explore the fringes of narrative, the seeds of cognition, and the thresholds of perception. He takes an holistic approach to video making and video installations embracing all aesthetic/technical aspects as an entangled web of symbiotic relationships. His work has been widely screened at over 500 film festivals with numerous awards and accolades. His major multi-channel video installations, designed to de-objectify the video viewing experience, have been presented at the Sundance Film Festival, the Kochi (India) Biennial, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the University of Iowa Museum of Art, and the Sheldon Museum of Art; his film and video work has also been screened at museums including the Whitney Biennial, Pompidou Museum, and MOMA in addition to hundreds of festival screenings. He is a recipient of grants/fellowships from Creative Capital, the NEA, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Pierce is also an educator. He has been a faculty member and leader in academia at three distinguished institutions. For two decades he was professor and program head of the Film/Video Production program in the Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa. He moved to New York to chair the department of Film/Video at Pratt Institute in 2011. In his first year he was tapped to be the acting dean of the School of Art and Design at Pratt for two years. He was then recruited by California Institute of the Arts to become dean of the School of Film/Video in 2014. He stepped down from that administrative role to join the faculty in 2019 to focus on his primary areas of interest – explorations of cognition and states-of-mind through his broad practices of videomaking and teaching.