Leslie Sills: The Vicissitudes of Youth

January 17, 2015 – March 7, 2015


  • Leslie Sills
  • Leslie Sills
  • Leslie Sills
  • Leslie Sills
  • Leslie Sills


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  • IMAGES:
  • /
  • Leslie Sills

    Homecoming
    Oil, gouache, leather, watercolor paper
    9" x 12"
    "Homecoming represents the return of a boy and his family after being displaced by civil war in the Congo, 2013. I worked from a photograph published in the N.Y. Times, struck by the boy's deeply thoughtful expression, hand on his chest, and standing in relief to the vivid patterns of the women's skirts. The landscape and the clothing are imagined but based on many photographs of the country and its people."

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  • Leslie Sills

    The Secret
    Acrylic, gouache, watercolor paper
    9" x 12"
    "The Secret began with a magazine photo of these two Japanese school girls. I was drawn to the pure delight in the face of the girl hearing the secret. Her expression reminded me of my childhood, before texting, when whispering secrets was common and something special.
    "The patterned background came from my admiring a kimono in a book titled Japonisme: The Japanese Influence on Western Art Since 1858 by Siegfried Wichmann."

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  • Leslie Sills

    Looking for My Father
    Oil, acrylic, gouache, cardboard, celluclay, watercolor paper
    12" x 16"
    "In May 2013, the N. Y. Times published a photo of a Bangladeshi boy, Hasibul, age ten, whose DNA was being used to identify the remains of his father who had died in the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse the month before. I took a special interest in this story as I grew up in the garment industry. My mother owned a dress shop and took me on buying trips. I, also, researched and wrote about another garment factory disaster in the United States for my book, From Rags to Riches: A History of Girls Clothing in America.
    "It was Hasibul himself, however, who inspired the painting. His beautiful brown skin, brightly colored shirt, and soul searching eyes contrasted so poignantly with the black, gritty debris in which he was standing. The father image in the window is based on a photo of an actual victim and the Caucasian mannequin head on the ground had been there as well."

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  • Leslie Sills

    Looking for My Father, Detail
    Oil, acrylic, gouache, cardboard, celluclay, watercolor paper
    12" x 16"
    "In May 2013, the N. Y. Times published a photo of a Bangladeshi boy, Hasibul, age ten, whose DNA was being used to identify the remains of his father who had died in the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse the month before. I took a special interest in this story as I grew up in the garment industry. My mother owned a dress shop and took me on buying trips. I, also, researched and wrote about another garment factory disaster in the United States for my book, From Rags to Riches: A History of Girls Clothing in America.
    "It was Hasibul himself, however, who inspired the painting. His beautiful brown skin, brightly colored shirt, and soul searching eyes contrasted so poignantly with the black, gritty debris in which he was standing. The father image in the window is based on a photo of an actual victim and the Caucasian mannequin head on the ground had been there as well."

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  • Leslie Sills

    Saved
    Oil, acrylic, gouache, cotton thread, watercolor and printing papers
    12" x 16"
    "Saved came from a N.Y. Times photograph of a girl, age three, who had been pulled from rubble after a bombing in Aleppo, Syria and was reunited with her father. The intensity of their connection, the way in which their bodies fuse, and the mixture of sadness and relief in both of their faces compelled me to paint their story. The background in which they are placed is all my fantasy as I thought about bombed holes in cement walls."

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“In the 21st century, with an endless number of photographs being part of our everyday lives, some images are unforgettable. As I read the newspaper or peruse a magazine, I am drawn to images of children in particular, whose expressions of joy, playfulness, vulnerability, sadness, or fear are on the surface. I keep a file of such pictures and the ones that stay seared in my mind often inspire paintings. I do not copy them, however, but use them as a starting point from which my imagination takes off.”

- Leslie Sills

Leslie Sills is an artist, educator and author of award winning books. Her most recent book Rags to Riches: A History of Girls’ Clothing in America was reviewed by the New York Times Book Review and was the winner of the 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award. Sills is a graduate of The School of the Museum of Fine Arts and a winner of numerous awards including a Fellowship in Crafts from the NEA (New England Foundation for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council).

Sills has stated, “I am deeply committed to encouraging and supporting children’s creative efforts. I want children to have role models, to see that they can express themselves even if obstacles seem to be in the way.” Her compassion and empathy for children’s lives are evident in her most recent faux naive paintings included in The Vissicitudes of Youth.

Leslie Sills’ work is held in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States.