Briefly describe the work you do.
I am a visual artist who draws from architecture and landscape, edging into figurative allegory. My work spans multiple mediums and formats. Photographs are drawn small-format. Printmaking influences composition and color. At the end of the day, I am an oil painter.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I was raised in upstate New York, close to Canada. My older brother played ice hockey. Consequently, travel by auto en route to games in neighboring cities, sometimes other countries informed my formalist approach. My mother is a quilter. My grandfather was a traditional sign painter. I inherited the art gene, I think.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of being in the studio.
I consider myself a participant /observer, collecting data and imagery on the fly. Sometimes truncated words scribbled, others detailed dreams meticulously typed into a smartphone. Scraps of paper become stacks. These become the paintings. Yes, there are hours spent alone, as well.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Starting out as a painter, I eschewed what could now be called social practice. I now value surrounding dialogue equal to my studio practice. The idea that art is made as a critique of something is important. And, it is limited. An outmoded role in my opinion is that of the marginalized artist.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I paint each morning prior to some exercise–dance, swimming or cycling.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
In the past five years, I have been working on follow through, namely getting rid of passive space. One of my painterly questions involves filling in the box. There is a lexicon which presents itself through my work. Recognizing these core elements across the mediums is always surprising. To paint non-objectively is to not know why things appear as they do. This, regardless of whether I paint from life or from imagination, is what I trust most.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
My lineage is Modernism. Friends and teacher’s insights have great bearing on my work. A couple of intriguing questions I’ve encountered have been: “What are you afraid of,” and “Where is that line going, anyway?”
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I am an educator–I can’t imagine doing anything else. I have done numerous things as my day job–admin, maintenance, reconciling hotel revenue on the night shift, to name a few. I always come back to teaching.
Leslie A. Holland (b. 1975) holds an MFA from the University of New Mexico and a BFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago in Painting and Drawing. Her work has shown in galleries including Hyde Park Art Center, William Shearburn Gallery and Yares Art Projects in Santa Fe, NM. Awards include Harry Nadler Memorial Fellowship, Phyllis Muth Scholarship for Fine Arts and Marion Monical Memorial Fellowship. Solo exhibitions include Without Words at Small Engine Gallery, Your Gold at SCA Contemporary and Works on Paper at John Sommers Gallery in Albuquerque, NM. Group exhibitions include UN 2, curated by David Solomon and Reasons, Excuses, Alibis and NonSequiturs, curated by David Pagel at UNM Art Museum. A selection of her work aired on “Madrigal,” Season Five, Episode Two of AMC’s television series Breaking Bad. Born in eastern Pennsylvania, raised partially in upstate New York and the Midwest, she presently lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she teaches for Lesley University’s MFA in Visual Arts Program.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.