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Leigh Anne Lester

Artist Statement #1 :

My work addresses the place between the genesis of genetic modification and its aftereffects. Genetic modification offers humans the resources and means to change the composition of species from the microscopic level to the macroscopic system; to change the composition of a species by deleting or adding an attribute to suit our own desires. But, what is disposable? Too often we don’t have a clear view of what the ramifications will be for a plant that has been altered or the species that depend upon it for survival. The new outcome of this potentiality can capsize a natural balance or create a new species for that balance. This possibility is as exciting as it is frightening. There is beauty in the unknown.

Beauty is an important tool in my work to lure and entice the viewer. Through the natural appeal of the plants, the graceful line of the drawings, the luminosity of the vinyl, the luxurious surface of the silk embroidery and the ever-evolving complexity of the animation, the viewer is asked to consider the paradox that beauty is really a balance of order/control with abandon/uncertainty.

In my drawings and animations, I utilize historical botanicals. My drawings are on four layers of semi-transparent Mylar with a botanical drawn on each layer. The transparency of the Mylar allows the line of each image to optically blend with the next layer. The animations utilize these same four layers but generate a constant flux between the different components of each of the individual plants. Elements of each of the species mix and tangle their visual attributes intermingling disparate species of flora much like a palimpsest with divergent layers and characteristics perceptible beneath the surface. The titles of these works are spliced composites of the plants’ genus and species names in four letter intervals. As a result they are nonsensical unidentifiable words, but in-between the gobbledygook, new identifiable words are formed showing the possibility of redefinition. I am currently sourcing from these drawings, seeing them as parent plants that create future generations. The genesis plants are put through a program that distills the imagery into color cells that vaguely reference the former plant images. These floating cells are then intermingled visually with a graphite drawing of a separate distorted color drained offspring plant, implying a cellular, morphological struggle for resolution.

Sculpturally, I work from disparate species of plants in hand sewn, clear plastic vinyl and plexi-glass. Each part of the synthesized plant is accurately patterned off of incompatible plants made to fit into an artificial arrangement, creating an amalgamate species. In my silk embroidery I invent a new species developed from attributes of the historic botanicals. Placing this new incarnation into the conventional craft of embroidery raises questions about the veracity of your granny’s sampler and the historical interventions, both aesthetic and agricultural. With this new "Frankenstein " flora I bring into play a sense of the possible, whether good or bad. I want viewers to think of it as a premonition of the consequences of genetic modification.


Artist Statement #2:

What does a family portrait tell us? What are those identifiable traits that are passed on through generations, ones grandmothersí ears, a great aunts nose? We live with them, inhabit them and accept them as part of our selves and our family. My work examines a new facet of family portraiture associated with the advancement of genetic testing.

There are two parts to this body of work, the first is embroideries of inherited family illnesses placed in elaborate frames to reference the traditional portrait seen in homes or museums along with the brass plack that tells of the disease and the year that it had effect on the immediate family. The use of embroidery as a traditional craft whose techniques are passed down through generations much like an inheritance of ones genes.

The second body of work is family portraits also but this time it is the manifestation of/or the damaged part of the organ affected by the inherited family disease matched to interior household paints. These pieces are investigating the idea of living with a disease but living in the setting or atmosphere of the disease by having it be a color that you would paint a room in your house.