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My current mixed media practice is a poetic response to the intersection of flooding/ pollution and climate change in two watersheds — Lake Erie (near me) and the Mississippi Watershed into the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone. The interconnectedness of our actions and our environment is at the core of my work, which both incorporates scientific data related to the watersheds and is an outpouring of my grief for damaged places. I am interested in the dynamic balance of (and sometimes even the tension between) scientific visioning and emotional processing
I have been responding to these damaged waterways and before the COVID-19 pandemic, I would have said climate change is the existential issue of our time. Today I would recast that more broadly– climate change, all environmental damage, pollution, profligate overuse of resources, as well as viral outbreaks are all related to issues of poor human stewardship to the interconnected planet.
The confluence of human impact on significant natural regions and my response to them is the central focus of my work. Working in mixed media is related to that underlying concept. Whether it’s climate, land use/stewardship or a pandemic we are all linked and all of our collective actions, trauma and effort are connected.
As an artist, I bear witness to what we are losing and imagine ways to mitigate the losses creatively, lovingly and honestly.
Leslie Sobel is driven by dual perspectives of art and science. Her fieldwork driven practice feeds her studio work. She works in mixed media including photography, scientific data and painting, printmaking, sculpture and performance. She has shown widely including many solo exhibitions.
She curates exhibitions and has been a juror multiple times, give talks and works widely to use her artistic practice to increase climate awareness and activism. Her practice includes working to change how we use urban land, starting with her own garden where she works to increase pollinator habitat, grow food and native plants.
Grants include an upcoming cruise on the Arctic Circle in 2021, residencies on the Eclipse Ice Field, Colorado Art Ranch, the Loomis Chaffee School, & several Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Professional Development Grants. University of Hartford Nomad Interdisciplinary MFA 2020, BFA University of Michigan School of Art 1983.
She’s a long married mother of three adult children, is the daughter of two scientists and is an avid hiker and outdoors woman.
Solo Exhibitions & Public Art:
•2020 Shrines & Reliquaries: Memorializing Climate University of Michigan Taubman Gallery, Gifts of Art program, Ann Arbor, MI
Earthforms - 2 person show with Jane Michalski at the Center for Visual & Performing Art, Munster, IN
•2018 Icefield Memories at Ann Arbor JCC shifting terrain- my sojourn on the ice at 22 North, Ypsilanti MI
•2016 Field of Vision Part II - Dexter Public Library
Field of Vision Part I - Ann Arbor District Library main branch
Power Art - public art piece on power box in Ann Arbor selected by jury and public vote
•2015 Sky/Ground, solo exhibition at Village Theater at Cherry Hill, Canton MI.
Solo exhibition at MIX Ypsilanti
•2012 Water Ways - Solo exhibition at Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor
Watershed Moments - Solo exhibition at Art & Environment Gallery at the School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan Ann Arbor.
•2011 CommuniTree- community based public art project using recycled materials co-sponsored by Street Art Fair and AnnArbor.com.
•2010 Invader/Invasive community based public art piece on invasive species sponsored by Street Art Fair Ann Arbor and donated by sponsor to Leslie Science & Nature Center.
Earth & Air - solo exhibition, Susan Hensel Gallery, Minneapolis
•2009 Sky River, community based public art workshop sponsored by Street Art Fair Ann Arbor
•2008 phase change solo show at WomanMade Gallery, Chicago, Yourist Gallery, Ann Arbor
Where We Live: the ecology of place, community based public art piece sponsored by Street Art Fair and permanently installed in Washtenaw County Library.
•2005 life cycles at Susan Hensel Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
Solo Exhibitions & Public Art, cont
•2004 New Encaustic Works at Washington Street Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI
•2003 Recent work, curated exhibition at Pfizer Worldwide headquarters, Ann Arbor
•2002 evolution of moment at Washington Street Gallery, Ann Arbor MI
•1999 recent works at the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments.
Inside, Outside - at Clare Spitler Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI
•2021 Viral Collaboration, exhibition at Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago
•2020 ecoconsciousness 2020- online exhibition juried by Eleanor Heartney for ecoartspace
Confluence - MFA thesis exhibition at Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford
Drawdown, 22 North Gallery, Ypsilanti MI
2020 Yeah, What Lester Said, Detroit Center for Design + Technology, Lawrence Tech University, Detroit MI
2015 Mapping - Finding a Way, online exhibition curated by Hylla Evans
Chaos, River Gallery curated at Rackham
•2014 Reaching for the Light, River Gallery curated at Rackham Building UM
The Print ‘14, Ann Arbor Art Center
•2012 2 person exhibition with Judith Jacobs at Dexter Library, curated by Distinct Designs
•2011 Immersed, 2 person show w/Kathi Reister at UM Duderstadt Gallery
Game Show, Macy Gallery, New York, NY - “Climate Change Game”
•2010 Contemporary Landscapes and Cityscapes, Terra Gallery, Columbus
•2009 From Our Perspective, Oakland Community College Womencenter, juror Gilda Snowden Waxing Lyrical, group exhibition, Mercy Gallery, Windsor, CT
Nano, Micro, Macro - a Matter of Scale - 3 person exhibition at UM Duderstadt Gallery Family and Friends, invitational, WSG Gallery Ann Arbor
Actual Size Biennial, CAID, curated by Aaron Timlin
Hydrology juried exhibition at Chelsea Center for the Arts, juror Cathy Barry
Art in the House, curated exhibition, offices of MI State Representative Pam Byrne
•2009 (re)mapping, work gallery, Ann ArbOr - UM School of Art juried exhibition
Embedded Light - national encaustic exhibition, Grosse Pointe Art Center, MI, juror, Chris McCauley
The Print '09, Ann Arbor Art Center, juror Richard Fairfield Encaustic Works '09, Castle Gallery, New Rochelle, NY, juror Heather Hutchison
Metamorphosis, , National juried exhibition, Haydon Art Center, Lincoln, NE
3 artists...3 generations invitational exhibition through AAWA at Sweetwaters, Ann Arbor
•2008 Aging with Attitude, Slusser Gallery, University of Michigan
•2007 Environments - Annual Fall Show, Space 237, Toledo, OH Annual All Media exhibition , Ann Arbor Art Center
•2007 Allegories of the Genome, traveling exhibition Winnipeg, Manitoba
•2006 Nature Reperceived, Gallery Project, Ann Arbor
•2006 & 7 SYNC 06 & 07– a digital arts festival - Duderstadt Gallery, University of Michigan Animate Object – Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit
•2002 All Media exhibition Ann Arbor Art Center, juror Marsha Miro, art critic Detroit Free Press
About Vision Competition, - juried digital show at The Global Café,London, UK.
•2001 SIGGRAPH - Art Gallery Los Angeles Convention Center, CA. Inclusion in international traveling exhibition for next 5 years to South Africa, France, Italy, China, Australia and USA.
•2020 MFA, Nomad Interdisciplinary MFA University of Hartford, Hartford, CT
•1997 Completed coursework towards Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Technology, Eastern Michigan University, College of Technology, Ypsilanti, MI
•1983 B.F.A. cum laude, University of Michigan (now Stamps) School of Art, Ann Arbor
•2021 Artist-in-residence at The Arctic Circle - tall ship based residency - Svalbard
•2018 Professional Development Grant to study with master printmaker David A Clark from Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs (MCACA)
•2017 Fiscal Sponsorship from Fractured Atlas - crowdfunded Kluane artist-in-residence Artist in residence, Eclipse Icefield, Kluane National Park, CA with climate scientists
•2014 Professional Development Grant to attend International Encaustic Conference from Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs (MCACA)
•2013 Artist in residence Canyons of the Ancients National Monument - via Colorado Art Ranch & Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute.
•2010 Artist in residence at the Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, CT
•2009 3rd place award, Embedded Light, Grosse Pointe Art Center
Sky River” - public art workshop and proposal sponsored by the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
•2008 Where we live - the ecology of place, public art project funded by Ann Arbor Street Art Fair and the Legacy (formerly Washtenaw) Land Trust
•2005 Artist in residence at Greenhills School, Ann Arbor
•2002 Solo show, juried award by DigitalArtMuseum.com
•2001 Robert Bosch Corporation Award, Michigan Finearts Competition
Merit Awards Ann Arbor Women Artists Exhibitions
Second prize in Abstract Odyssey at the Scarab Club, Detroit
•2000 Residency & exhibition -48 Hours of Making Art - at Lake Erie College, Painesville, OH.
•1999 Exhibition funded by the Arts Council of Lake Erie West, Toledo OH
Curatorial Projects/ other professional:
•2020 Co-curated Yeah, What Lester Said, moderated artist panel on climate resilience, Detroit Center for Design + Technology, Lawrence Tech University, Detroit MI
•2018 Juror, State Street Art Fair, Ann Arbor
Talks given at UCLA’s Art-Sci Center & University of Michigan
•2017 Outrage! The Art of Protest - co-curated with Susan Fecteau and John Gutoskey at 22 North
Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs (MCACA) Grant panel reviewer
•2014 Judge, Guild Common Ground Art Fair, Birmingham, MI •2012-13 MCACA Grant panel reviewer
•2011 Juror, Crooked Tree Arts Center Annual Fine Arts Exhibition, Petoskey, MI
•2010-2013 Board member, Arts Alliance.
•2010-2013 Member, curatorial committee Art on the House, rotating exhibitions in State Representative Pam Byrnes’ offices under auspices of Arts Alliance
Co-organizer, Sustainable centerpieces fundraiser for the Ecology Center
•2010 Curator, Waxing Lyrical at The Sue and Eugene Mercy, Jr. Gallery, Windsor CT
•2010 Co-founder, Board President Milan Art Center in Milan, MI
•2009 Co-organizer, Home: Loving It, Losing It, Leaving It - Women’s Caucus for Art at UM
•2008 Juror (with Lynda Cole), One planet, one experiment, at WomanMade Gallery, Chicago
•2007 Co-curated Venus of Willendorf - Redefining the Goddess- National feminist art project
Curator, water works- group exhibition at Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center
•2005-16 Portfolio review Stamps School of Art & Design, University of Michigan
sci-art, encaustic, monotype, aerial abstraction, mixed-media, prints,