Interview: Leslie Adler
New Jersey based artist, Leslie Adler recently had her first solo show at First Street Gallery on 26th street in Chelsea, Manhattan. Adler’s art practice is process driven, responding to emotional states and literary inspiration. She uses mediums such as ink, paper, thread, paint, and charcoal that manifest themes such as birds, flight and patterns. Those themes took flight in her gallery installation this past February.
Christine Romanell: Your body of work in “Concealed Crossings” uses elements such as birds, threads and ink patterns. Where do you get your ideas from?
Leslie Adler: My work is about being in the moment, I’m very process oriented. It is so much easier for me to see the beauty in everything when I am present. This is the best way for my ideas to flow. Although I appreciate birds, I am more interested in flight in relation to birds. Their collective consciousness and their movement through the sky moves me. The continuous graceful motion that we so often try to emulate. So there is a great freedom in this as well as in pattern making. The process of pattern making is very mediative. It is a repetitive motion, not unlike a Mantra. The act of doing something over and over has a rhythm. My ideas expressed visually come from things and circumstances that I have seen or experienced in my life that I connect to on a visual and emotional level. I then, ideally, like to strip the ideas away of the social context that we might have created for whatever the “thing” or “circumstance” is.
CM: You have included poetry in your work. What kinds of poetry are you drawn to? How does it manifest itself in your practice?
LA: I like poetry and would love to work with it more. I like most kinds of poetry but especially non-generic poetry. Meaning poetry that has a unique voice. I used to read Shel Silverstein poetry to my kids. I was reading some Rumi before I got my MFA so when I was choosing a starting point for my thesis I used Conference of the Birds by Farid Attar. I had also seen some paintings by Fresco Clemente on this 4,500 line poem. I enjoy Sufi poetry because there is something for almost everybody in the poetry, you can take or leave any one part of it. When I use poetry in my art I do not illustrate the poem but I like to visually present its essence. If it is a bit playful then even better.
CM: What are your biggest challenges when you make work? What are the greatest rewards?
LA: Keeping track of, organizing and remembering ideas is one of them. I would say this translates into making the most of the time. I am a good project manager for others but when it comes too my own work it can be challenging.
Secondly, I used to struggle so much about the wastefulness of artist materials. Most people have to make a lot of art all the time to be successful. Because I am very environmentally aware I had to to really let go of and not get attached to what I was doing because you need to be so open and fearless which means going through lots of material. So now I try to use what is around and what I finde. I recycle my work into new pieces and I use natural pigments like beet juice whenever the opportunity presents itself. I also realize that art is so important to inform humanity about ourselves. This has allowed me to be more available emotionally to my work. My greatest reward that I get to do what I love!
CM: Can you talk a bit about the small ladder? 😉
LA: When you are curating your own work you know that a piece or two that you love might not make it into the mix. I had a few pieces for this exhibition that I thought were my core pieces. I took lots of art and put them next to these core pieces to see if there was a connection. … I did not do this with the ladder. I always knew it would be there. I randomly made the ladder in late spring of 2015 when I was home sick for a few days. It was a concept that was in my mind for an art call that I did not have time to enter. I never strayed too far from the ideas that would pop in my head for its use. That being said it was always its own entity. I had also made a tiny painting of rocks that I loved. I decided to put rocks somewhere else in the show. I liked them on the ladder because the added stability physically and emotionally. The futile green ground and possible ascension of ideas, beings, or whatever you like is what worked for me. I did not allow myself to question it.
CM: What have your learned from your first solo show?
LA: Work hard for a long time so that you have many choices for your solo exhibition. Finish 6 to 8 weeks before so that you can focus on getting your work out to interested people. Write and talk about your work. The social media machine, the internet works so use it. Always be thoughtful. On a more personal note, express yourself and do not be afraid to use your voice or to be the center of of attention.
CM: What’s next?
LA: Besides getting the works form this last exhibition out there to other spaces and cities, I will be taking four directions from the show and expanding on them. This sounds a bit synchronistic tone because the concept of “four directions” is tied into my work. I would also like to use some of my more successful directions to help further some of the causes that I support. Id like to take the recycling a little further of pieces. I will be focusing on a few collections as probably work less randomly at this point. Lastly, I might curate some local student art shows.
For more information about the artist: LeslieAdlerfineart.com