My series, Grief is Not Infinite, explores ambiguous grief; loss without the finality of death or closure. Through personal and metaphoric storytelling, my work examines how one deals with aging, disability of a loved one, and loss of self.

Just as we set out onto a new path, my dearest husband was felled by a burst of blood in his brain changing our world forever. Suddenly our future life was a blank page; all of our plans were upended, forgotten and we had to invent a new life for ourselves. Lives that would be joined, but not always moving together in a single direction. I wanted art to carry part of that burden.

For a long while, my husband felt lost to me, but over time his new embodiment became more visible, more alive, closer to the man I remembered. I began photographing him as a way of remembering and creating some solace, of literally seeing him.

As the pandemic and resulting isolation took hold, we turned inward, as did so many, to focus on new ways of being in the world. Having long experience as a landscape photographer, I was drawn to plant life in woods, parks and neighborhoods. Early in the morning when many places are deserted, I gathered weeds, flowers, insects, stones and sticks to create pictures. Internal and external turmoil marked days of solitude and creation. I worked to see and capture the beauty and transience in images made alone in the studio using alternative processes. The blank canvas of our lives became not an object of fear but of inspiration.

These ways of managing the new direction of our lives coalesced in my most recent work:  seeing myself. Feeling trapped by difficult circumstances, I gave myself permission to look at who I am and how I have gotten here. Living with death and disability so near has challenged me to take control of how I tell my story and show myself to the world. From sadness and anger at where fate has taken me to the great joy and power of being alive, my work lays bare one of the most profound of human experiences: grief.

Seeing in new ways has helped me to come to terms with the ongoing grief of losing my beloved husband and my world, not to death, but to massive transformation. Fate and the rehabilitation of self helped me create a parallel universe where I can see further. There, as I have learned, grief is not infinite.

 LESLIE S. KIEFERleslie@LeslieKieferPhotography.com202.446.7109

Permanent Exhibitions

Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital, Washington, DC:

See Me, Permanent exhibition of 8 portraits of individuals working out in the National Rehabilitation Hospital No Limits Gym Program

Gallery Showings


Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis, MD

MFA Fall Member Show 2023, Circle Gallery
Honorable Mention Award Winner

Green Spring Gardens Horticultural Center, Alexandria, VA

“Captured: Plants and Place”

Gallery B, Bethesda, MD

“Variety Show – A Photo Ensemble”

Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis, MD

Light and Shadow MFA Curve Gallery
Deborah Buck, Juror
“Rabbit Eyes,” Juror Award


Target Gallery at the Torpedo Factory, Alexandria, VA

Body Talk
Matt Storm, Juror
“The Electric Bedroom”

PhotoPlace Gallery, Middlebury, VT:

Found Objects
Sandrine Hermand-Grisel, Juror
“Found in the Woods”


Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis MD:

Light and Shadow, MFA Curve Gallery
Joseph Di Bella, Juror: Emeritus
Professor of Art at Mary Washington College
“POM,” Juror’s Award

Corporate Connections, MFA Gallery
Katalyn Farnady, Marcy Sagel, Emily Vaugh

Small Wonders 2021, MFA Gallery
Amanda Burnham, Juror
Professor, Towson University
“In Fight,” Juror Award

Photoplace Gallery, Middlebury VT:

Arthur Meyerson, Juror
“Poppy Explosion”


Photoworks Gallery, Glen Echo National Park, MD:

100 Days of Solitude
Joe Cameron, Juror: Professor of Photography


Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis MD:

Street Scenes, MFA Curve Gallery
Adam Davies, Juror

American Landscapes, MFA Circle Gallery
Jack Rasmussen, Juror:
Director and Curator,
The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

Photoworks Gallery, Glen Echo National Park, MD:

Visual Poetry, Photoworks at the Popcorn Gallery


Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis MD:

Writing on the Wall, MFA Curve Gallery
Roberta Pardo, Juror: Local Muralist
“Dancing in the City”

Flora and Fauna, Annapolis Maritime Museum
Jack Rasmussen, Juror:
Director and Curator,
The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center
“The Icy Pond” Honorable Mention Award


Photoworks Gallery, Glen Echo National Park, MD:

Earth, Water, Air
Sarah Gordon, Curator: DC Commission of Arts and Humanities
12 Photographs from Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens National Park