ABOUT LESLIE OH
I am a woman beyond a certain age whose life has always been intertwined with making art.
My formal training has been exploratory, yet scant. Some examples: In the 1960s, I took a drawing class in Chicago at the School of the Art Institute. In the 1970s a professor of film at the University of Illinois–Chicago taught me how to paint on 16 mm film so I could teach a school class how to do it. Later I designed and produced masks for a student dance group performing in Menotti’s The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore at the University of Chicago.
In the 1980s, I took three photography classes at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and five photography classes in London. The District Director of English School Inspection gave me the opportunity to photograph what actually happens in a London elementary school classrooms while the school was in session. It was unusual for an outsider to be given such free access.
Shortly after my family moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 1984, I began creating traditional collages. Over time I developed a process of gluing velum over a collage and then painting it. This altered the underlying images and colors. These became my Painted Collages, which attracted the attention of a Brown University Professor of French, who had a particular interest in collage as an art form. He mentored a group of practicing collage artists. Most were graduates of the Rhode Island School Design and exhibited their work throughout the state. I was pleased to be invited to join that group. Many of the members were intrigued that I created my collages without heeding the usual artistic conventions taught at RISD. I exhibited my work in four or five group shows.
9/11 fermented another art adventure. Thinking that 9/11 would be a culture changing event, I vowed to record the minutia of family and neighborhood daily life for 10 years. I began to make elaborate multimedia art books that I called Everything Books. I entered 1-5 pages daily into a 4” three-ring binder. I included drawings, selected political cartoons, personal writings (poems, journals, vignettes), material from events and trips, photos (often 20 a day) that I took on neighborhood walks, conversations, transcripts of public hearings, emails and other documents and items. I experimented with creating computer images to use as a page background upon which I affixed the everyday ‘everythings.’ After ten years, 89 binders filled a floor to ceiling bookcase. The Rhode Island Historical Society accepted my full collection.
I love making collages that build upon and expand the artistic processes I have defined. My “digital collages” are abstract and colorful. They reach across a broad spectrum of affects. Each collage is small, and each one surprises me.
– Les Oh