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Work Samples

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Entanglements: Arlington Arts Center detail ink on hand cut paper, sewing pins, acrylic paint 2016

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Fierce Beauty ink and charcoal on hand cut paper, sewing pins 2016

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Relational Forces ink on hand cut paper, sewing pins 2016

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Entanglements: Julio Fine Arts Gallery detail ink on hand cut paper, sewing pins, egg cartons, spray paint 2016

ENTANGLEMENTS: Loyola University 2016, Arlington Arts Center 2016, Sondheim Semi Finalist Exhibition 2015

DESCRIPTION FOR ENTANGLEMENTS, CAUSE AND EFFECT AND SUBTLE DISTURBANCE

Much of my free time is spent walking in the woods, along seashores and riverbeds looking intimately at fallen objects, looking up at the sky, looking down at growing and dying organisms and trying to understand the essential tendencies of nature. Water, wind, clouds, rocks, moss, algae, insects, birds. Each of these has a pattern in life that is driven by different motivations, but each of these also lives within an ecosystem that inextricably binds them together. The way a flock of a thousand chimney swifts dive into a chimney one at a time never bumping into one another but moving at the speed of a thousand race cars. The way that the sun rays beam through a billowing black cloud formation just in time to cast a yellow light on the reddest Japanese Maple in the whole neighborhood. The way a powerful wind storm can churn up the waves in Lake Huron so much that is looks like the ocean. These are the things that influence my work. Within each of these observations is the essence of Nature.

The natural world can be simultaneously beautiful and destructive. Although humans have developed technologies and medicines to overcome the powers of nature, we are often reminded of its omniscient force when we are faced with natural disasters or incurable disease. For me, nature is a friendly presence, but I am also wary of its ability to surprise us with unpredictable behaviors. I honor its strength by never assuming that I know too much and by keeping my sense of individual power in check.

I am baffled by the way nature disintegrates, destroys, rejuvenates and restores itself in spite of human interference. I am interested in the rhythm of life that beats inside living organisms, as well as the revolving cycle of decay and growth that occurs in the world as a whole.

I feel that this work underscores the opposing forces in Nature: Magnetism vs. repulsion; contraction vs. expansion; growth vs. decay; and beauty vs. ugliness. The combination of these polarities is functioning internally and externally in Nature simultaneously. Though these terms would tend to suggest both positive and negative forces working at odds within Nature, it is important to withhold judgment when considering the framework in which these forces function. Whether a process is benign or malignant is almost irrelevant because each process operates under a basic presumption: It is just doing what it's been programmed to do. Every organism, whether it is nourishing or damaging (to humans), ends up going through this process of decay as well. You see it in everything. The only reason we judge it as good or bad is in the context of whether it hurts or helps us. This is a reflection of what I feel is happening in nature

PROCESS

When I sit down in the studio to create this work, I don't have a grand plan of how it is going to turn out. I allow my response to visual stimuli navigate me through the creation of multiple elements that will eventually go into the installation. I tend to be keenly in tune with my surroundings, which can be both a benefit and a curse. I say curse because I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the expansive visual stimuli within the world. But this is what drives my desire to work slowly and methodically, meditatively building one small element on top of another. I set before me a task that is seemingly impossible to complete as I collect, cut, paste, and draw everything by hand. However, this time-consuming, arduous process forces me to spread the task out over time and gives me a chance to truly examine the materials and the subject to their fullest capacity. By focusing at smaller details, I am able to concentrate on subject matter that is easier to digest.

The making of the elements is a very controlled process (I am compensating for the fact that I have no control over Nature). The only elements I can control are my detailed drawings and cut paper. While the task of making the objects takes months and sometimes years to complete, the installation itself is a fluid, intuitive process that is conceived on the spot and completed within a week. As I approach the gallery, there is no preconception of how the work will take shape. The landscape seems to grow of its own volition and often echoes what goes on in nature, both inside and outside our bodies.

MATERIALS

I use a lot of recycled materials: Phone books, wax, toilet paper rolls, old drawings, found paper, dirt. Though I am not making a political statement on conservation, my consideration of materials is a personal choice and is reflective of my desire not to leave a heavy footprint on the earth with my art; I want my art to add awareness without adding clutter.

Moreover, I feel that it is important to use materials that have a long process, or history, behind them. That is, I consider the materials and their origins and the processes by which they become transformed into objects used in art. Basically, I am considering two separate but integral levels; there is the actual object and from where it came and then there is the transformation of the object into something new.

INTENTION

I believe if the work is successful it should compel the viewer to recognize himself/herself on a more cellular level, like recognizing what we are within our bodies. Think of a mirror as a microscope: Instead of seeing a face or any external features, you see the internal make-up of the person. The subconscious may then begin to recognize that we are all made up of the same elements as every other living organism on earth.

I also want the viewer to notice things they might normally disregard or overlook and to be reminded of the invisible world that exists beneath the surface of our awareness.

I encourage the audience to come into the space and be enveloped by it and allow themselves to respond to it. Do not feel that you have to step back from it and maintain a safe distance. I invite you to get close to the materials, to smell them, to view them from different angles, going as far as to lay on the floor and look up at the components from your back! It is important that you interact with the piece.

Therefore, this is not a static piece of artwork. It is a piece that continues to grow in my studio and actually changes as it travels from gallery to gallery; it is evolving and developing as it goes from one place to the next. I don’t consider the components as finished works of art. Instead, I consider them as works in progress.

CAUSE AND EFFECT: Sylber Art Gallery Goucher College 2012

SEE DESCRIPTION FOR ENTANGLEMENTS

SUBTLE DISTURBANCE: King Street Gallery Montgomery College 2011

SEE DESCRIPTION FOR ENTANGLEMENTS

LARGE CUT PAPER DRAWINGS 2015- 2016

LARGE CUT PAPER DRAWINGS 2015-16
In response to the linear flat quality of the larger scale installations, these drawings are an attempt to focus more on depth and space within each drawing. While the large scale installations such as Subtle Disturbance and Cause and Effect sought to reconfigure the space they inhabited, these smaller drawings invite the viewer to step inside the atmosphere created by layered ink on paper.

SMALL CUT PAPER DRAWINGS 2015 - 2016

SMALL CUT PAPER DRAWINGS 2015-16
I see these drawings as small installations. They behave in much the same way as the large scale installations by occupying the space in a three dimensional way, but their small scale makes them look more like specimens.
These drawings are not preconceived. I first create a variety of drawings on paper and then cut them out. Later, I arrange the drawings in formations that work together and attach them to the surface with sewing pins.

  • Cut Paper #2a

    Cut Paper #2a
    acrylic ink, pen on hand cut brown paper and Yupo, sewing pins 22" x 20"
  • Cut Paper #1

    acrylic ink, pen on hand cut Reeves BFK and Yupo, sewing pins, acrylic paint 22" x 20"
  • Cut Pape #2b

    acrylic ink, pen on hand cut Reeves BFK and Yupo, sewing pins 22" x 20"
  • Cut Paper #3

    acrylic ink, pen on hand cut Reeves BFK and Yupo, sewing pins 22" x 20"
  • Cut Paper #7

    acrylic ink, pen on hand cut Reeves BFK and Yupo, sewing pins 22" x 20"
  • Cut Paper #5

    acrylic ink, pen on hand cut Reeves BFK and Yupo, sewing pins 22" x 20"
  • Cut Paper #6

    acrylic ink, pen on hand cut Reeves BFK and Yupo, sewing pins 22" x 20"
  • Cut Paper #4

    acrylic ink, pen on hand cut Reeves BFK and Yupo, sewing pins 22" x 20"

HANDMADE ARTISTS BOOKS 2010-2016

These pup-up books are made from hand cut photo polymer etchings on paper and assembled by hand. The photos weretaken from my own explorations in nature.

  • Book 3 detail

    photo emulsion etchings on paper cut with xacto knife, book board, pva glue
  • Book 3

    photo emulsion etchings on paper cut with xacto knife, book board, pva glue
  • Book 2 detail

    photo emulsion etchings on paper cut with xacto knife, book board, pva glue
  • Book 2 detail

    photo emulsion etchings on paper cut with xacto knife, book board, pva glue
  • Book 2

    photo emulsion etchings on paper cut with xacto knife, book board, pva glue
  • Book 1 detail

    photo emulsion etchings on paper cut with xacto knife, book board, pva glue
  • Book 1

    photo emulsion etchings on paper cut with xacto knife, book board, pva glue
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    Hand cut drawings assembled into artists book

PAINTINGS 2016

PAINTINGS 2016
This series of paintings came out of an investigation of the relationship between vast spaces and the organisms that inhabit them. This could be interpreted as the relationship between matter and outer space or the relationship between micro-organisms and internal space.
All of these painting started as slow pen and ink drawings of imaginary organisms. I later added many thin layers of oil paint in a quick and spontaneous manner to create the environment that houses these organisms.

PAINTINGS 2014-2015

PAINTINGS 2014-2015
This series of paintings are based in the idea of movement in nature and connectivity. The earth and its inhabitants are in constant motion and nothing is ever static. I am attempting to convey the feeling of constant motion within a stable image.
All of these painting started as slow pen and ink drawings of detailed objects and organisms. I later added many thin layers of oil paint in a quick and spontaneous manner to create the environment that houses these organisms.

PAINTINGS 2013 -2014

PAINTINGS 2013-2014
This series sparked the beginning of my interest in microscopic organisms and biological abstraction. I began by painting animals that were being enveloped by their environment as if they were undergoing the process of decay and regeneration after death. Later I headed toward abstraction, just focusing on the molecular aspects of life, such as the atoms and molecules that make up our bodies and our world around us.

  • Crain

    ink and oil on panel 36" x 48"
  • Green Dog

    ink and oil on panel 36 x 36 inches
  • Dead Bird

    ink and oil on panel 36" x 36"
  • Cause

    ink, oil and wax on panel 68 x 42 inches
  • Effect

    ink, oil, graphite powder and wax on panel 68 x 42 inches
  • Undetected Interruption

    ink, oil, wax on panel 40 x 42 inches
  • Conduit

    ink, oil, wax on panel 68 x 42 inches
  • Specimen

    ink and oil on panel 5 x 7 inches
  • untitled

    ink and oil on panel 24 x 36 inches

PEN AND INK AND GRAPHITE DRAWINGS 2009-2016

Some of these are straight observational drawings and some are my interpretations of observations in nature. The drawings from my imagination are done without looking at any objects but simply derived from the memory of what I have seen.

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About Leslie

Leslie Shellow was born in Washington DC in 1969 and currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland. She has exhibited in such venues as Loyola University of Maryland, Arlington Arts Center, Greater Reston Arts Center, McLean Project for the Arts, The Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, the National Institute... more

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