Artist Statement

In February 2018, I spent 4 weeks at The Jentel Artist Residency tucked away on a 1,000 acre cattle ranch near Sheridan, Wyoming. As a person who is terrified of the cold, Winter in Wyoming was a bit daunting. Regardless of the temperature, which dipped down to minus 15 some mornings, I spent every day outside exploring the environment.Listening to the crunching of the snow beneath my feet. For a moment, I stopped to take in the vastness of the rolling snow covered hills against the backdrop of the Bighorn Mountains. What I experienced next was something completely new to my ears. It was complete and utter silence.

It was not until my second week that I realized the life in this ice covered, muted world was in the rocks. I spent hours outside drawing the rocks, sitting on the rocks, photographing the rocks and climbing to the highest rocks. Most of the rocks I encountered were igneous rocks formed through the cooling and hardening of molten lava from volcanic eruptions of millions of year ago.

The drawings that came out of these explorations began as spontaneous brush and ink drawings of the jagged red and green lichen covered raised rock parts protruding out from the blankets of snow. The deep crevices inside the rocks filled with snow, while the raised areas popped out like stop signs in my path. The drawings started out calm and quiet like my experience in Wyoming and evolved and transformed to incorporate the more chaotic and frenetic life to which I returned home.


Leslie Shellow was awarded the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for Works on Paper in  2019, as well as, 2016, 2013, and 2010. In 2015, she was selected as a Sondheim Prize semi-finalist and exhibited her most recent solo shows at Vis Arts in Rockville and the Greenbelt Community Center.

Leslie was born in Washington DC and currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland.  She has exhibited in such venues as The Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, the Silber Art Gallery at Goucher College, the King Street Art Gallery at Montgomery College, the National Institute of Health and the Fraser Gallery in Bethesda, MD.

She holds an MFA in Painting from Towson University, a BFA from The Maryland Institute College of Art and a BA in Education from the Evergreen State College. Her work consists of ink drawing on paper, cut paper installation, printmaking, bookmaking and oil painting on panel.

Pulling her imagery from observations of nature, both in the visible world and through microscopes, Leslie addresses natural processes such as growth, decay and regeneration. Mold, lichen, corral, cells, viruses and bacteria are among the many natural elements that influence her work.

She currently teaches Drawing at the Maryland Institute College of Art.



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