Artsy Shark is pleased to present Featured Artist Leisa Rich, whose work in fiber can been seen by visiting her website or blog. Enjoy!
Leisa Rich is an artist working in conceptual and Neo-Surrealist 2D, sculptural and installation format, using thread and free motion stitching as her primary medium and method.
Illnesses have been the motivators in her life-long passion for all things fiber and nature the catalyst for subject matter. As a baby, Leisa had a satin-trimmed blanket; the only way she could fall asleep was by working her fingers from one end to the other. At age four, while in the hospital for deafness, her mother made clothes for her Barbie. One particular dress, made of a fiery red satin and lace, provoked her tactile infatuation.
At age 15, while attending Interlochen Arts Academy for piano and dance, Leisa developed thyroid complications from Mononeucleosis, causing weight gain and getting kicked out of the dance department until she lost the weight. A friend suggested she take weaving (“an easy “A”, man!”) Leisa LOVED it and switched her major to art. 36 years later she is still hooked!
Growing up in Canada surrounded by lovely, wide-open spaces–the land mass of Canada exceeds the United States’, yet it has less population than the state of California–fabulous lakes, mountains and a very low human population, Leisa feels most at peace in the natural world. Leisa spent her childhood communing with nature; ice skating outdoors on natural creeks and days spent alone sifting the sand on the beach of Lake Huron in quest of a perfect fossil.
Recent work has involved the continuous exploration and development of the ways which man-made materials can be formed into art that references nature or natural systems and how, when Leisa magnifies these human-made “systems”, they form a new reality. This attempt is in response to her dissatisfaction with the impact of human behavior on the natural world. Leisa is seeking to create a unique world of her own design, made from that she shuns and that she embraces.
In her three-dimensional and installation works, Leisa addresses this by looking 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. Leisa transforms those simple, ordinary objects into extraordinary environments in order to give them greater significance. Using the power of scale—from miniscule to gargantuan—she portrays and brings to notice an important essence she sees.
The 2 dimensional, Neo-Surrealist pieces Leisa creates interject personal storytelling into a broad visual commentary on that dysfunctional society. Her wall works at first glance might be likened to that of a painting – an initial impression of color and form -but the viewer is usually confused by a texture unlike that in painting and is then sucked in for a closer look. Leisa wants that element of hidden surprise (“that’s done with THREAD?!) to grab, so that viewers are drawn in to her story.
Leisa’s recent works have invited humans back into her world. They are completely participatory and viewer interactive. Movable elements that viewers can take off/add on open up visual dialogue, creating new stories each time the components are rearranged. Leisa is presently working on a viewer interactive commission for a major U.S. art museum that will appeal to adults and children alike.
In addition to her conceptual, non-functional works, Leisa also makes unique items for body and home for her Etsy shop, stores and gallery shops. She teaches at arts centers, runs the after school art program at a private school in Atlanta and conducts workshops and arts events.
Leisa was featured on the PBS artist special “IN CONTEXT”; in upcoming books “NOPLACENESS- Art in the Post-Urban Landscape” “Studio Quilt: No. 6” and “Modern Sculpture”; in the published books, “Hand to Hand: 195 Artists Witness the Iraq War” “The Best of America Sculpture Artists and Artisans” and “Quilt National 2009” and exhibits locally, nationally and internationally.
Leisa holds MFA and BFA degrees in Fibers and a Bachelor of Education in Art. She is also on the Board of Directors of South East Fiber Art Alliance.