Leslie Holt opens her solo show AN INTIMATE GRAMMAR at David Lusk Gallery Memphis this October. Well known for paintings that encourage dialogue with topics of psychology, grief, and triumph, her newest body of work furthers her exploration of the visualization of mental health conditions through color and language.
Holt’s Brain Stain series exploits the aesthetic qualities of scans of healthy brains and those affected by mental illness. Measuring changes associated with blood flow, PET scans reveal compelling differences in presence, absence, and proportion of certain hues. These hues are often attributed to specific emotions associated with mental conditions - someone experiencing depression may “feel blue” because decreased brain activity presents a visual image with more blue, green, and black than a healthy brain.
In DON’T LET THE SUN, her previous show in Memphis this past May, she utilized embroidery to connect the front and back of canvases suspended from the ceiling. Clear text appeared on one side while an abstract cloud of brightly colored embroidery thread appeared on the other. Viewers encircled the floating canvases, seeing clear thoughts as well as jumbled messes within each painting, embodying the metaphor for parts of ourselves that are concealed while, or perhaps because, of more understandable or likable qualities that we share.
Of her work Holt says, “My interest is in this combination of objective data with more poetic interpretation as a reflection of both corporeal and clinical experiences of mental health conditions. In some of this work, the brain imagery itself is abstracted beyond recognition, presenting a more subjective view of the brain.” Holt’s compositions on raw canvas contain clouds of sharp acrylic pigment that bleed, drip, and pool around embroidered brains and text. Culling imagery and text from scientific, historical, and personal references, she explores the visualization of mental health and the history of its treatment.
Leslie Holt is from Bethesda, Maryland, and in 2012 she returned to the DC area after living in St. Louis. She received a BFA in Painting at Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in Painting at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. Holt has taught studio art, art history, and art appreciation at the collegiate level for over 20 years, and has also worked as a social worker and advocate for people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and those receiving welfare benefits. She is the Co-Director of Red Dirt Studio, a warehouse studio for a group of independent artists and creative professionals. In 2021 she presented NEURO BLOOMS at Beautiful Distress House and the Mentrum Mental Health Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and was included in the Phillips Collection’s INSIDE OUTSIDE, UPSIDE DOWN, an exhibition celebrating the Collection’s 100th anniversary and founder Duncan Phillips’ commitment to presenting, acquiring, and promoting artists in the D.C. region.
David Lusk Gallery is located at 516 Hagan St in Nashville. Gallery hours are Tu - Sa 10-5. For more information or visuals please contact Lees Romano at 615.780.9990 or firstname.lastname@example.org.