Lakes Were Rivers (LWR), a collective currently comprised of eight artists that formed in 2008, makes work informed by the theory and the practice of photography, exhibits work individually and collectively, and publishes limited-edition books. Based in Austin, Texas with members living throughout the United States, LWR has won numerous awards and accolades — including a Critic’s Pick (Artforum), an Idea Fund Grant (Warhol Foundation), and Best Museum Show 2013 nomination (Austin Critics Table Awards) — and has been featured in many exhibitions — including Strange Pilgrims (The Contemporary Austin), Contemporary Photographic Practice and the Archive (Harry Ransom Center), Artifact/Souvenir (Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum with Texas Biennial), and Panta Rei (Box 13 Artspace with FotoFest International Biennial). Members include Leigh Brodie, Elizabeth Chiles, Jessica Mallios, Mike Osborne, Jason Reed, Susan Scafati Shahan, Adam Schreiber, Barry Stone.

The name takes its inspiration from the fact that all the lakes in Texas save one were once rivers, as well as the notion of photography's pooling of the river of time.


Leigh Brodie, originally from Denver, Colorado,  makes photographs, videos, and interactive installations that experiment with digital information and its presentation. She received her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2007. She received an National Endowment for the Arts grant in Extending Creativity and Digital Media in 2008 as well as the School of the Museum of Fine Arts’s Karsh Prize in Photography in 2006. Her recent exhibitions include showings in the Texas Biennial at The Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin, TX; Double Take at Eyebeam in New York, NY; Dark Matter at Space 204, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; and a solo show at Gallery 825 in Los Angeles, CA.

Elizabeth Chiles was born in Austin, Texas, and holds a BA in Art History from Columbia University and an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute.  Chiles has shown her work at John Cleary Gallery, The Austin Museum of Art, The Chelsea Art Museum, Stanford University, San Francisco City Hall and as part of the Texas Biennial.  Chiles is a lecturer in Studio Art and Theory the University of Texas at Austin and an Assistant Professor in Photography part-time at Southwestern University.

Jessica Mallios was born in Austin, Texas, and holds an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College and a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Her most recent exhibitions include Photography Sees the Surface at Higher Pictures in NY (2015); Local Time at The Center for Ongoing Research & Projects (COR&P) in Columbus (2015); Sightings at Disjecta Contemporary Art Center in Portland (2014); and Sight lines at Artpace in San Antonio (2014).  Mallios is currently Assistant Professor in the School of Art & Design at Texas State University and lives and works in Austin.

Mike Osborne received a BA in English from Stanford University in 2000, and an MFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas in Austin in 2006. He has been a Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan (2006-2007), a resident fellow at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany (2008-2009), and an artist in residence at Artpace San Antonio (2012). His photographs have been published in the New York Times and the New Yorker, and articles on his work have appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Artlies magazine, and ...might be good. His work is in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and AMOA-Arthouse. He lives and works in Austin, Texas, and Washington, DC, where he is an assistant professor at Georgetown University.

Jason Reed holds a BA in Geography from the University of Texas-Austin and an MFA in Photography from Illinois State University. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Photography at Texas State University and founding co-director of Borderland Collective, a participatory art program that has worked with more than 100 youth across the American Southwest over the last four years. His individual and Borderland Collective work has been shown in public space and gallery exhibitions in Texas, Illinois, Brooklyn, New Mexico, Austria, Washington, D.C. and Mexico City.

Susan Scafati Shahan holds a BA in Fine Art from University of Colorado at Boulder, and has studied at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York, San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), and Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy. She has been featured as an emerging artist by curators Cindy Sherman, Adam Fuss, and Jack Pierce; a recipient of L’Ecole Nationale Photographie Superieur Award (ICP) and the Barbara Lans Memorial Award (Silvermine Guild Arts Center, 2004 Spectra National Photography Triennial); and a top pick by the Hammer Museum, Photo District News online, and Austin American Statesman. Currently she teaches at The Contemporary Austin and has previously served as the Art Talks Chair for Art Alliance Austin.

Adam Schreiber was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He earned an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin (2007). He is represented by Sasha Wolf Gallery, New York. Recent exhibitions include Phantoms in the Dirt, at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (2014) and Photography Sees the Surface at Higher Pictures, NY (2015). He was a recipient of a 2014 Graham Foundation Grant for Living High, Letting Die and is currently Assistant Professor of Studio Art at DePaul University. He lives and works in Chicago and Austin.

Barry Stone was born in Lubbock, Texas, and earned an MFA in Photography from the, University of Texas at Austin (2001). His work is represented by Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in New York and Art Palace in Houston. Stone lives in Austin, with his wife and two daughters and is an, Assistant Professor and the Coordinator of the Department of Photography in the School of Art and Design at Texas State University-San Marcos.