Seven years ago, Leslie Green Guilbault left a successful career as an administrator/project manager in academia and contract pharmaceutical manufacturing to become a full-time ceramicist and bone carver. Well-meaning colleagues often advised her to “focus on one type of art and perfect it.” But Leslie--a self-proclaimed “recovering perfectionist”—would have none of that. “One of the most liberating and fulfilling aspects of being an artist is the freedom to make what I want when I want and to experiment with new techniques as my skills dictate. Giving myself permission to be creative in a number of styles has resulted in a body of work that accurately reflects different facets of my personality, current interests, and my desire to keep improving and discovering new areas of work that make my spirit soar.”
Leslie’s exhibit at The View focuses on the three most current and unique styles of her work. The “Of the Earth” Collection is comprised of carved ceramic pods made from Hamilton, NY clay that she dug, hand-screened, and mixed with porcelain. Each piece is either wheel-thrown or formed over her knee then poked, pierced, and carved into designs that mimic shells, aquatic sponges, rocks, and bone. Many of the pieces were pit-fired in her yard with wood chips collected from a local woodworker. “The combination of local clay and the pit-firing technique makes each piece a true example of local art.”
The “Etched Landscape” Collection features porcelain tiles that are hand-rolled over boards to create a woodgrain surface onto which she paints finely detailed birds, trees, and nature scenes. Rather than using oil or acrylic, Leslie uses ceramic underglazes to create surface designs that will never fade or flake. She then etches the feathers, leaves, and branches to create a look reminiscent of Asian woodblock pieces. “My natural inclination when creating ceramic art is to carve designs of my own making into a surface that I’ve thrown on a wheel. Painting scenes like these—either directly from nature, from photographs, or adapting scenes from renowned wildlife painters--really pushes me as an artist.”
The “Artifact” Collection features dramatic wall pieces that combine her ceramic art with natural elements such as bone, antler, quills, and fur. Leslie finds most of the bones in the woods around her home--the exceptions being the caribou antler she found on a hike in Denali, the animal fur that she purchases from subsistence hunters in Alaska, and the African horns and quills that she finds in estate sales and antique shops. She professionally cleans and prepares each piece for use in her work, preferring to carve the larger bones and antlers with patterns that play off of the natural contours of the pieces themselves. “Every piece in this collection follows a formula: 1) its style or defining natural element must come from a place in the world that has personal meaning to me or a place that I dream of visiting some day; 2) it will include stylistic elements from a culture that is different from my own; and 3) the finished piece must look ancient—like something that could have been unearthed in an archaeological dig. One of my life goals is to travel the world through my art. These pieces are a stepping stone in that direction.”
When she is not traveling to art shows, Leslie discusses her work in lectures and panel discussions across New York, teaches private lessons and small classes in her studio, and gladly accepts commissions in any of the styles of work featured in this show and on her website: www.LGGCreativeArt.com. Her ceramic and bone carving gallery is open to the public during Open Studio weekends (dates posted on website) and by appointment (315-750-5022).