about the exhibition
Leigh Anne Lester: Cultivated Divergence
San Antonio, Texas
January 10–April 21, 2013ABOUT THE ARTIST
Merging prehistoric ferns, animal-eating flowers, desert succulents, and backyard weeds, San Antonio artist Leigh Anne Lester creates mixed-media versions of amalgamate plant species. Her detailed specimens resemble 18th century botanical illustrations, but exhibit disparate elements of flora in new synthesized arrangements: incongruent leaves and various flowers stem from one stalk and a single, unlikely root system. Recent work gleans information from past mutant species, mixing and stretching clips of foliage from other works into new layered drawings and cut-outs.
Lester was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and received her BFA at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including Beautiful Freaks/Nature’s Bastards at the Southwest School of Art, San Antonio (2010); Artificial Arrangement at Conduit Gallery, Dallas (2006); and Untitled at the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio (2006). Her work has also been included in The Future is Not What It Used to Be at Trinity University, San Antonio (2012); Wild Kingdom at Texas State University, San Marcos (2011); San Antonio Draws at the McNay Art Museum (2011); Biennial Southwest at the Albuquerque Museum of Art (2008); and Beneath the Skin at Limn Gallery, San Francisco (2007). Lester was awarded the Huntington Art Prize in 2011 for her drawing, Mutant Spectre (2010). She is the co-founder, co-owner, and co-curator of Cactus Bra Space gallery in San Antonio, and currently works at San Angel Folk Art Gallery.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Facing Main Street, Leigh Anne Lester’s Cultivated Divergence features large-scale botanical propagations in hand-cut drafting film and vinyl. Lit from the inside, white silhouettes of creeping plant forms weave around the front and back of four suspended, blue Plexiglas sheets and cast a delicate layering of shadows on the floor. Where there is a break of the lineage on the blue, vinyl foliage grows in the Window Works gallery windows. Some portions escape the glass and proliferate around the Artpace building.
Lester is fascinated with the next generations of her mutant plant drawings. For Cultivated Divergence, she took portions of her previous work, like samplings, to harvest new forms. Her installation makes an obvious reference to plants but is a deliberate visual muddling. Each layer of vinyl vegetation and its resulting shadows optically mix and create new forms, indicating flora but becoming “freaky, weird, and stretched-out,” according to the artist. She questions what is unnatural about the genetic modification of plants and human interference with plant DNA, stating: “Genetics in plants allow us to divert evolution to our own ends. How will that play out? How could I visually interpret that?” * With seductive floral patterning and luminescent vinyl, Cultivated Divergence entices meditation on how society alters the environment.
*(Interview with Wend Atwell, 2011, retrieved 12/12/12: www.fluentcollab.org.mbg/index.php/interview/index/170/100)