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, 2016 and 2019. 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
Being in tune with my surroundings can be both a blessing and curse. Sometimes it provides unending visual information to use in my work and sometimes it is simply overwhelming and paralyzing. Observing nature has a calming effect on my mind and so that is where I choose to spend most of my free time. The infinite colors of lichen on rocks, the back and forth flow of sea grass underwater, the reflective, metallic surface of mineral pools at Yellowstone all play an important roll in feeding my artistic sensibility. Careful observation is at the core of my practice. An appreciation for the complexities of the natural world drives my desire to work slowly and methodically, meditatively building one small element on top of another. 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. Methodically pouring thin layers of paint and waiting for them to dry requires great patience and the opportunity for reflection. I start most of my work with observational drawing. I think of it as a kind of human camera recording the imagery in my brain. Once the observational drawings are complete, I then stop looking and start responding to the essence of my experience. How did it feel to be in the presence of the hot springs at Yellowstone? Not just how did it look, but how did it feel? This is where the more imaginative elements of the drawings come into play.
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.