Leslie Shellow was born in Washington DC in 1969 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 Arlington Arts Center in Virginia.
In 2017, Leslie was selected as a Baker Artist Award Finalist and in 2015, a Sondheim Prize semifinalist. Her most recent solo exhibition was at the Julio Fine Arts Gallery at Loyola University of Maryland. Leslie was awarded the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for Works on Paper in 2010, 2013 and 2016. 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 oil painting on panel, ink drawing and painting on paper, printmaking, bookmaking and cut paper installation. 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 and is a Framer and Gallery Assistant at Fleckenstein Gallery in Baltimore, MD
I tend to be keenly in tune with my surroundings, which can be beneficial, yet overwhelming due to the expansive visual stimuli within the world. Regardless, this is what drives my desire to work slowly and methodically, meditatively building one small element on top of another. I set before me a challenging task that seems to have no defined endpoint. The deliberate process of meticulously drawing and cutting everything by hand allows for a more intimate examination of the materials, which in turn draws me closer to the subject. Also, the methodical pouring of thin layers of paint and the waiting for it to dry requires great patience and the opportunity for reflection.
The natural world can be beautiful yet destructive, awe-inspiring yet heart-breaking, tender yet abrasive. Although humans have developed technologies and medicines to overcome the destructive powers of Nature and to harness its energy, we are often reminded of its omniscient force when we are faced with natural disasters or incurable disease. For me, Nature is a friendly presence, but I am also wary of its ability to surprise us with unpredictable behaviors. I respect its strength by never assuming that I know too much and by keeping my sense of individual power in check. The one thing that is predictable about Nature is that where there is an effect there is always a cause. All elements in nature are inextricably bound to one another.
Attraction, repulsion, contraction, expansion, growth, decay, beauty and ugliness are all aspects of Nature that are underscored in my work. These polarities function both internally (in the body) and externally (in the universe) in similar ways. Though these terms would tend to suggest both positive and negative forces working at odds with one another, every plant or animal, every weather pattern or atmospheric event, every bacteria or virus (whether it is nourishing or damaging to humans) follows its own programed behavioral path, and ultimately ends up living and dying just like we do.