March 24 1950 - present
Photograph of Lesley Dill, courtesy of George Adams Gallery, New York, NY, USA
Place of Birth:
Drawings and prints, Painting, Performance Art
, Photography, Sculpture
Painter, Performance Artist, Photographer, Printmaker, Sculptor
Lesley Dill is a painter, printmaker, sculptor, photographer, and performance artist, who, in addition to her artistic training, holds degrees in English and philosophy. Working mostly with natural materials, including charcoal, horsehair, tea, rice, paper, wax, and bronze, Dill creates art that ranges in size from books to public billboards. What focuses her endeavors over this wide range of media is language; it is the conduit for her visual investigations.
She credits her father, a biology teacher who heard voices and used a very private, metaphorical language, for her early exposure to the nuances of language and its various degrees of intelligibility. When her mother gave her a volume of poetry by Emily Dickinson for her fortieth birthday in 1990, Dill’s work changed immediately and dramatically. Until then, she had created attenuated figures from wood, bronze, and Celluclay. Though these figures dealt with themes of vulnerability and sensuality, they were relatively literal in concept. The incorporation of language, and specifically poetry, provided new layers of meaning, imbuing Dill’s work with an extraordinary richness.
Language, the human body, and their relatedness have been the focus of many contemporary artists for more than twenty years; however, Dill stands apart from her peers. In her hands these subjects become tools to express a profound humanism rather than a detached skepticism. Her work argues that the sense of self is formed in large part through language and communication – both with others and with our spiritual nature. In her probing of evocative combinations of language and image – of voice and vision – she pushes the boundaries of rational understanding and intuitive perception and shifts the viewer, as she says, “into a place where we are a little uncertain.”
Art Critic, Curator
Place(s) of Residence:
Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD, USA (1980)
Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA (1972-1974)
Trinity College, Hartford, CT, USA (1970-1972)
Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA (1968-1970)
Related Visual Artists:
wife of Ed Robbins
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Grant, Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York, NY, USA (1996)
Sculpture Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC, USA (1990)
Project Residency Award, Hillwood Art Museum and New York State Council on the Arts, New York, NY, USA (1992)
The Positive Show, ABC No Rio, New York, NY, USA (1981)
Lesley Dill: A Ten Year Survey
From the Collection: Contemporary Figurative Prints
Partners in Printmaking: Works from SOLO Impression
The Clara database is no longer being updated. This database will be retained as an access point for our artist files. Artist profiles are now a featured component
on the NMWA website. For artists who are not in our collection: we are in the process of creating a user-submitted registry that will be available by 2015. Thank you for your patience as we create new content to better serve researchers, members, and artists.
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