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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Leslie Sills

With friends and students (children) as my models, I am creating ceramic personages who speak to the everyday experiences of girls and women. Realistically modeled with distinctive emotions and dressed in bright colors and patterns, they celebrate simple pleasures in a less complex world. Writing about my most recent exhibition, "A Girl's Life," at Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Boston Globe art critic Cate McQuaid said "Life is sweet."

In the 1980s and 90s, my work was mixed-media sculpture, primitive figures that expressed concerns with sexual identity and gender roles, as well as a deep connection to nature. Susan Stoops, curator at the Worcester Art Museum called these pieces "spirit vessels." In 1989, when I exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, curator Elizabeth Sussman (now at the Whitney Museum of American Art) wrote, "Leslie Sills' multi-media sculptures communicate one of the movements (feminism) central insights — the body may be used as a potent metaphor for psychological, sexual, and historical content."

My current work continues to use the body to represent the spirit, but now one of a more joyful nature.

While I am self-taught in terms of creating the figure, I share an affinity with many artists who have come before me. I am drawn to the child-like clarity of Henri Rousseau, the playful obsession with the mundane of Joan Brown, the love of wild color used by Lucas Samaras, and of course, the anything-goes attitude of ceramic master, Bob Arneson. Like many women artists who came of age during the 1970s, I see the personal as political. My figures are portraits, self-portraits, and comments on being female all at the same time. As writer Margaret Atwood has said, "I like to think I built on my strengths, my womanhood being one."

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