Artist Tour  Leslie Green retrospective 2018

Artist Tour Leslie Green retrospective 2018


This retrospective is a very exciting and kind of profound experience for me to see 50 years worth of work all in
one space. Seeing pieces talk to each other. Seeing the the common theme that’s developed over all this time and seeing… being a witness to what I have
learned from nature, as having nature as my teacher my whole life.
These nestled pots from 1980 I included in the exhibit because they were a
turning point for me. I had just acquired my large studio in
Santa Monica. I was trying to figure out what direction to take. I was throwing
pots one day and I had these two rounded forms with lids. And I thought, well,
rather than just being two little jars I could do something different with them.
So I paddled them, distorted the form, made him look organic. Almost like
something you’d find in the forest floor. And nestled them together so they could
be in separate pieces, and they could be one: they’re removable. But as I was
working on this piece, I had an epiphany. Which was that I’ve developed the skill
at this point, I’ve got all sorts of freedom, and I can kind of do anything I
want in clay. And it was an important realization to validating where I was in
my creative life. And that from that point on, I felt comfortable calling
myself an artist. And prior to that I wasn’t so sure. But I realized I had
developed something that was mine and that nobody can take away. And that’s
what I try and encourage and develop in my students too: to know that they can do the kind of work that only they can do and it’s
theirs forever. This piece is part of a series I call my
organic wall pieces. This was done in 1997 and I was taking a
lot of textured slabs of clay and forming them into organic shapes,
with no with no preconceptions. I was working sort of being guided by
that little voice inside that says, you know, push this form out here, create a
gully in there. I just kept doing just some wild sculpting. And I did a series
of these. They are fired to stoneware temperature and then gessoed and painted with a lot of layers of thin acrylic wash. This piece is called, All Art is
About the Body and it was a… I had heard it… I think from my teacher Esther. I
don’t know where she got that quote from but I thought it was a really
interesting comment. And it just popped in my head to call this piece All
Artist is About the Body because you certainly can see references to natural
form and human form inside this piece, and the other ones of the series. This
piece is called Bear from 2005 and it’s based on a picture I saw in a
Smithsonian Magazine. It was about a dig in Turkey and it had this little black
and white picture of what I assumed was a bear. And it just fascinated me. There
was no designation as to what year it was from, how big it was, or what it was
made out of. But I copied it and took it to the studio. And threw out a big piece
of clay and just started doing what I saw in that picture. And what it felt like to me into the piece of clay. I was happy with what I
got. It was rather spontaneous and I didn’t have to think too much. It just
came out. It felt like I was honoring that small piece of art that some
anonymous person did thousands of years ago. And I soda fired it, which was a new
way of firing for me at the time. The glazed surface turned out really well. I
was really happy with it. And it even cracked in the firing, which to me was a
nice thing. It was like letting the clay do what it wants to do. Letting the fire
of the kiln do what it wants to do to the clay. And giving the piece more of an
authentic look, like like it survived the elements. This piece Blue Mystery is from
this year and it’s a… to me it’s kind of like finding my groove. I’ve been I’ve
returned to painting from clay work for about four years now. I was sort of
struggling for my theme for my groove. And then I realized in doing this
painting that the woods that I look out into every day, because I very blessed to
live in the woods, is showing up in my painting—specifically the wild hazelnut
tree that has all sorts of very interesting branching. Very interesting
lines happening in the way the branches grow, in a very unusual contorted sort of
way. And I’ve been fascinated by them, studying them, and then all of a sudden I
realized that that is starting to show up in the work. It was it was unconscious,
but now I’m I’m aware of it. And I’m gonna bring it into the work more
consciously. And this piece too is… it’s kind of like
a right brain stimulator. It was for me, but people that
view it give me different things that they see in it. And I kind of love that
because I don’t really have any defined image here. But children and other people
will see things and I find that it’s like looking at clouds and seeing what
you make out of cloud shapes. What you make in this painting I find really
interesting. This piece is called Pleistocene Human Arrival from 2012. And
it’s about the effects of the arrival of humans in North America and their
effects on the landscape. Their effects on the the large herbivores and
predators that lived here in balance in harmony for hundreds of thousands of
years before human arrival. I tried to create a a beautiful landscape
that’s peaceful. That shows rolling hills, water, and that is
violently interrupted by the symbol of man, which is a spear or an arrowhead
piercing through the landscape. And in the landscape you see the the skeletal
remains of the the large the the mammoth and the saber-tooth cat and another—
possibly the large camel. So it’s a — it’s a large bowl that just
contains an environment. And I made the the bones by hand to look like real bone.
And it’s telling a… it’s telling a story. This piece I call Moon on Mountain. It’s from 1985. And it’s a way of working that I’ve
always enjoyed. I lay down arbitrary color with generally watercolors. And
then I go back in with something else, in this case, it was oil pastel, and just
start drawing. Just start having something move. Just start putting it
down some lines and having those lines tell me where to go next. When it was
finished, I saw what to me was like a mountain shape and a rounded shape
inside of it. And Moon on Mountain popped into my head. It could easily be Lungs
and Heart, or it could be something else. But for some reason that name stuck in
my head. I still don’t understand what that’s all about. But maybe I will one of
these days. But there is a self-portrait quality to this that it it speaks to me.
And then in 2002, once I started doing raku, I I wanted to carry over that Moon
on Mountain image into a more three-dimensional piece in clay. So I
again have the basic triangle mountain shape and the moon kind of shape. In this
case, inside of the moon or the heart, I took the stamps of L, O, V. E and jumbled
those around. So the word love is inside the heart part on this piece. It was
raku fired in two sections and mounted together. And I was really happy
with the way it turned out. In 1985 I was in my big studio. I had a
huge kiln and plenty of clay. and I was involved with the newly-formed animal rights movement. And I wanted to do a very powerful piece
about animals: about what’s happening to animals and non-human life. And I thought
that the horse would be the most powerful animal that I could use to get
that message across. And since I couldn’t do a life-sized horse in clay that was
not practical, I figured having a horse come through the wall would solve that
problem for me. And it would also have a lot of impact. So over the about three years I made about 10 different horses.
I sold all of them, but these two were the two remaining that I have. And I
tried to make as powerful an expression on them through their gesture and
through the look in their eyes and through the tension in their muscles as
I could. I took liberties in figuring out how to how to sculpt the horses. I
looked at a lot of pictures of horses and I looked at horses throughout the
history of art and realized that artists throughout time have been sculpting
horses, but they’ve taken a lot of liberties in how they’ve done the
anatomy. So I thought I can take liberties, too. So I’d get the basic
structure as right as I could and then do a lot of sort of weird intense
creative sculpting around each eye. So each eye on each horse is different.
And I was going for intense expression. And the teachings again my teacher
Esther comes to mind, because she said something like, “It was the clay that
taught her how to be a potter and how to make a pot.” and it was the horses that
taught me how to make horses. This is what I do. This is what I love doing. I
love creating. I love changing all the time .I love
experimenting. And the show, I think, is evident of the the changing and the
experimenting that I do with with themes that are consistent throughout the work.
I thought it was important early on that I developed the skills in terms
of drawing and learning how to throw pots which formed the basis of the
creative work that I’ve done since then. One of the paths that I’ve followed
through all these years is allowing the unconscious to come forward in what I do,
feeling like I’m a medium for what’s deep inside that we generally don’t have
access to. But art is a really great way to have access to that and to allow it
to come forth. And one of my hopes in this exhibit is that what comes out of
my unconscious, brought through either in clay or in painting, will resonate with
viewers and their unconscious their own connection to nature. Their own
connection to animals and animal life. And that is a very important part of my
creativity—connecting with the viewer. It’s the experience of being in this
room and seeing the original seed—where this came from. The first pot that I made
in 1968 and what has what has evolved from that as a result of studying nature
and learning how to trust that little voice inside that has guided me through
my whole creative life.

1 thought on “Artist Tour Leslie Green retrospective 2018

  1. she's amazing, the one she calls blue mystery at 5:15 is amazing. It's kinda like a Rorschach. Thanks for posting this

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