Lesley Dill
Poetic Visions: From Shimmer to Sister Gertrude Morgan

January 25 - March 9, 2013

Nationally known for the unexpected and dramatic ways in which she fuses art and language, New York-based Dill explores the relationships between language and transformational experience through multi-faceted work that appeals to a wide range of interests.

Poetic Visions invites audiences to delve into art, literature, spirituality, feminism — even fashion,” says curator Barbara Matilsky, of the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, WA, who worked closely with Dill to mount this traveling exhibition.  The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art rarely hosts traveling exhibitions; preferring instead to originate its own exhibitions and educational programs.  An exception was made for this show, however, according to Halsey director Mark Sloan: “Dill’s work has always been fascinating to me in its combination of word and image”. “When I learned my colleague Barbara Matilsky was organizing an exhibition of Dill’s recent works, I jumped at the chance to participate in the tour”.

Describing language as “the touchstone, the pivot point of all my work,” Lesley Dill reveals the potential of words to stir feelings and convey hidden meanings, explains Matilsky. “Her synthesis of a lyric vocabulary into bronze, foil, wire, paper, fabric, and horsehair informs an innovative style that radiates visual eloquence.” Unified by their layers of words, figures, and symbolic imagery, the artworks in Poetic Visions underline Dill’s desire to render transcendental experience into form. Her work represents “a symphony of spiritual traditions,” in which New Orleans street preacher/visual artist artist Sister Gertrude Morgan is just one of the players, says Matilsky. Dill was drawn to this famous folk artist, who also merged text and image in her work, because of her strength and conviction of belief.

Lesley Dill’s Poetic Visions has been organized by the Whatcom Museum, which is supported by the City of Bellingham and the Whatcom Museum Foundation. Shimmer and Allegorical Figures courtesy of the George Adams Gallery. Sister Gertrude Morgan courtesy of the Arthur Roger Gallery.

Leslie Dill’s exhibit at the Palmer Museum at Penn State


Lesley Dill
Poetic Visions: From Shimmer to Sister Gertrude Morgan

“Lesley Dill is one of the most prominent artists working at the intersection of language and art. Experimenting with a wide range of tactile materials, she fuses poetic text and images to create evocative mixed-media artworks and performances.

Inspired by her two-year sojourn in India and the illuminating aspects of diverse faith traditions, Dill interprets relationships between the physical and the spiritual. Her expressive artworks, layered with multiple meanings, also reference nature and human identity.

This exhibition focuses on two bodies of the artist’s work: metallic sculptures such as Shimmer and the drawing-and-textile based installation, Encountering Sister Gertrude Morgan, which interprets the life of the New Orleans missionary and folk artist. Unified by layers of words, figures, and symbolic imagery, the artworks underline Dill’s desire to render transcendental experience into form.”

Barbara Matilsky
Curator of Art
Whatcom Museum

Lesley Dill was born in Bronxville, New York and raised in Maine. After graduating from Trinity College with a degree in English, she received her master of arts in teaching from Smith College in 1974, and her master of fine arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1980. The artist soon moved to New York, where she emerged prominently as a sculptor and multi-media artist. Dill has also made significant contributions as a performance artist, and aspects of theater inform the pieces exhibited in this exhibition. Nationally recognized, Dill has shown her work in numerous solo exhibitions across the country. Her artworks are in the collections of over fifty museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Community Partners 2017