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Photograph of Leena Jayaswal

Leena Jayaswal Interim Dean, School of Communication

Additional Positions at AU
Director of the Photography BA
BA Visual Media and Anthropology, American University; MFA Photography, Maryland Institute College of Art

Favorite Spot on Campus
AU Photography Labs
Leena Jayaswal is a documentary filmmaker, award-winning photographer and Professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington DC, where she is the director of the new BA in Photography. Her photography and film work often deals with the intersections of being Indian and American. This work has been nationally recognized in galleries around the country, including solo shows at the Gandhi Memorial Center, and International Visions Gallery. Group shows include Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, The Washington Project for the Arts/ Corcoran Gallery of Art, Arlington Arts Center, Kathleen Ewing Gallery, Lexington Art League and the Studio Gallery. Jayaswal has photographs in group collections with the Society of Photographic Education's Multicultural Caucus at the Center for Photography, En Foco, Light Work, Photo Center Northwest and the Asian American Arts Centre. Previously she has worked for famed photographer, Mary Ellen Mark, and with the Sandra Berler Gallery. Her award winning films have been screened in various film festivals around the country. “Crossing Lines” was picked up for national distribution by NETA and has been broadcast on over 100 PBS affiliates across the country. The film has won numerous international and national awards including the prestigious Gracie Allen Award, and is currently being distributed by New Day Films. Her latest film, "Mixed", a collaboration with Prof. Caty Borum Chattoo, explores what it means to be mixed-race in American, fifty years after the historic, landmark Supreme Court Decision, Loving v. Virginia which made interracial marriage legal. Jayaswal is also working with artist Monica Bose on a feature documentary about climate change, called, "Rising Up to Climate Change: Storytelling with Saris." Jayaswal was one of 8 filmmakers to be a part of the Futures Exhibition at the reopening of the Smithsonian's Arts + Industry's Futures Exhibition. Jayaswal was the Schools' first Inclusion Officer and Associate Dean from 2019-2022.
See Also
Crossing Lines
Rise Up to Climate Change: Storytelling with Saris
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Partnerships & Affiliations

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

Professor Jayaswal’s research mainly involves the South Asian Diaspora, although she is also interested in music documentaries as well. She is a photographer, artist and filmmaker.

Grants and Sponsored Research

  • The Rivers Project- AU Faculty Research Award
  • Crossing Lines- Department of Education Grant
  • Crossing Lines- AU Faculty Research Award


  • 30 minute documentary aired on over 40 PBS affiliate stations. Distributed by NETA (National Educational Telecommunications Association) and has been accepted in 18 juried film festivals, including the International Film Festival of South Africa, Heart of England International, Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival, NY, GiRL Fest, Hawaii, Cross Cultural Film Festival,and the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival
  • An Impression: Dischord Records 15 min documentary screened at 10 juried festivals including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Our City Film Festival, DC Meets Delhi, Berkeley Arts Center, Miami Independent Film and Music Festival, DC Independent Festival, and Woodstock Museum
  • a work in progress 30 min documentary on eminent domain abuse


  • Partition Revisited, iDMAa Conference, Georgia 2008
  • Partition Revisited, UFVA Conference, Colorado 2008
  • The New F- Word, (with Prof. Brigid Maher) Visions in Feminism Conference, Washington DC 2008
  • The New F-Word, iDMAa Conference, Philadelphia 2007
  • The New F-Word, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC 2007
  • The New F-Word, UFVA Conference, Texas 2007
  • Coding Identity: The Symbolic Deconstruction of Hurricane Katrina, UFVA Conference, California 2006
  • Coding Identity: The Symbolic Deconstruction of Hurricane Katrina, iDMAa Conference, Ohio 2006

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Best Documentary Award (for Crossing Lines) at California Arts Association Digital Short Film Festival
  • Best Selected Juror Film (for An Impression: Dischord Records) International Film Festival, Berkeley Art Center
  • Official Photographer for the Patsy Cline Museum

Media Appearances

  • Darshan TV, “Crossing Lines”, Nov. 2008
  • India in New York, “A Moving Ode to Art” by Arthur Pais, Nov. 2008
  • India Abroad “Film Festival Showcases Variety in Indian Cinema” by Arthur Pais, Oct. 2008
  • India-West “Crossing Lines Documentary Chronicles Identity Search” by Ashfaque Swapan, Sept. 2008
  • India Abroad “Indira’s Crossing” by Arthur Pais, Aug. 2008

Professional Services

  • Juror for Photographic and Video Contests- (UFVA-Documentary Film, The Exposure Group, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ITVA- International Television Association, CINE Golden Eagle ASEAN Photography Festival)
  • Co-curator for Visual Griots Exhibition at the Kansas Public Library and The National Museum of Natural History, The Smithsonian
  • Northern Virginia Community College Advisory Board for Photography


  • Solo Show, “din ke sapne”  (Dreams of the Day) International Visions Gallery, Washington DC 2004
  • Group Show, “Remix: East-West Currents in Contemporary Art” Arlington Arts Center, Virginia 2006
  • Group Show, “Photography NOW” Kentucky, 2007
  • Group Show, “Harmony of Hues” Boston 2006
  • Group Show, “Annual National Juried Competition Photography” New Jersey 2004