Leisa Rich (Sculptor & Artist) -
Fiber Art Sculpture – Exploration and development of the ways which man-made materials can be formed into work that references nature or natural systems.
Leisa Rich is a sculptor and artist who employs fiber, surface design, hand and machine stitching, human detritus and a variety of other unusual techniques and materials in her 2D and 3D constructions and Installations. She is an art educator with 35 years experience teaching all levels, and ages from 3 year old through college, in Fibers, Sewing, Painting/Drawing, Book Making, Printmaking, Clay, Resin/Molds, Encaustic and more. She holds Master of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Education in Art degrees. Leisa teaches at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center and The Galloway School, and runs classes and workshops in her studio. She will teach at Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta campus in Winter 2011. Her previous experience includes international fashion, set design projects for television and theater, a successful wearable art business, Director of Art and much more.
Artist Statement -
Humans have destroyed nature in a never-ending quest to conquer and consume.
I am involved in the continuous exploration and development of the ways which man-made materials can be formed into work that references nature or natural systems and how, when I magnify these human-made systems, they form a new reality. This attempt is in response to my dissatisfaction with the impact of human behavior on the natural world. I am seeking to create a unique world of my own design, made from that I shun and that I embrace. In my 2009 solo exhibition, Beauty From the Beast, I created the situation of humans disappearing- which resulted in a Post-Apocalyptic Reclamation state- thus causing organic matter left unchecked to morph with the detritus of humans that has been left behind. The apocalyptic 10 page over-sized comic book told the tale of death and destruction, and the sculptural, fantastical gardens and morphed trash creatures created a world…without us.
Once I had killed off humans, I decided to re-populate the world, creating a new vista and giving viewers the opportunity to recreate it, using my pieces. In this new work multiple pieces- minuscule to gigantic scale body parts, animals, objects and more- can be pulled off and placed on by the viewer, thus giving them the satisfaction of entering my world but altering it to suit themselves.
In my 3 dimensional works, I look at items usually ignored: a small stone kicked aside while walking, a bit of broken glass, a fossil, a shard of twisted metal, a shell, leftover plastic, a microscopic cell. I transform those simple, ordinary objects into the extraordinary in order to give them greater significance. Using the power of scale alteration, I bring to notice an important essence I see in each object.
The 2 dimensional, somewhat Neo-Surrealist fiber pieces I am creating interject personal storytelling into a broad visual commentary on that dysfunctional society. My wall works at first glance might be likened to that of a painting – an initial impression of color and form – but the viewer of my work is usually confused by a texture unlike that in painting and is then sucked in for a closer look. I want that element of hidden surprise to grab, so that they are drawn in to my story.
Feminists might postulate that my use of fabric and the intricacy of the stitching in the works hark back to the days of quilting bees, when women shared stories, solved the problems of the day and bonded tightly as they worked with tiny stitch. As society has become more complex and humans increasingly disconnected from each other and from nature, artists like myself are holed up alone, stranded worker bees…transforming what I can, a bit at a time.
Leisa exhibits in international and national, curated, juried and solo exhibitions. She is on the Board of Directors and Planning Committee for the new non-profit arts center South East Fiber Arts Alliance, a member of many arts organizations, has won several prestigious awards such as bestowments from The Barbara L. Kuhlman Foundation, the Distinguished Juror Award from The University of Texas, Surface Design Association Awards and more. She was recently featured in the books, The Best of America Sculpture Artists and Artisans, Volume 1 Kennedy Publishing and Quilt National 2009 Lark Books, filmed by PBS for the series, CONTEXT and featured in Artists to Watch in FiberArts magazine, and more. Her work is in the public collections of The University of North Texas and The University of Texas, and in private collections in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Article by James Day
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