About the Artist
Leslie Barlow: Leslie’s artwork reflects personal experiences and relationships, and her work is inherently political in its subject matter and approach. She often creates works depicting family, friends, and personal experiences to reflect the subtle and not-so-subtle integrations of these ideas into individual lives and identities.
Derek and James is from Leslie’s Loving Series. This series was initially inspired by the 2013 General Mills Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial family and their mixed-race daughter, and the backlash it received. And the first exhibition of the series in 2017 coincided with the 50th anniversary year of the Loving v. Virginia United States Supreme Court case that struck down all state laws banning interracial marriage.
Leslie chose to use portraiture in the Loving Series to explore the representation of multiracial families and their relationships to reveal the tension that exists between these images and contemporary culture’s perception of what a “real” or “regular” family looks like. She is fascinated by the politics of representation – whose stories are represented in our imagery? Who decides which stories are told? How are these stories told, and from whose perspective?
In addition, Leslie’s paintings are a response to her own conflicted feelings of belonging, which are compounded by the limited representation of diverse narratives by and of people of color in art history and images in popular culture.
Julie Buffalohead: Julie’s autobiographical work offers glimmers into her life as an artist, mother, and Native American. Her Portrait Show painting, Slippers, plays on Native creation stories, but is loosely interpreted into a personal realm where humans and animals become interchangeable beings. This signifies a shared consciousness between animals and humans, as in, becoming a trickster. In some Native stories the trickster character is a teacher that reveals something about what it means to be a human being. In Slippers, Julie sees herself as an owl playfully creating havoc on the world around her.
Vesna Kittelson: Vesna’s paintings, Harvey II, Rica, and William, are part of her Young American Series. This series is an open-ended project of paintings of young people between the ages of 20 and 30. The paintings are fragments, just a face, painted in oil on paper, and cut with a scissors to be placed directly on a wall. The paintings hang without frames to mimic a face-to-face conversation.
Conceptually, the cutout form derives from Vesna’s childhood experience of growing up in the ancient Roman city of Split, Croatia, where she was surrounded by fragments of Roman and Western art. Sculptures, mosaics, and frescos were everywhere and accessible. As a child, these fragments were compelling riddles to solve. Later, they compelled her to begin painting faces as fragments.
Vesna’s experience as an immigrant is another relevant component in the conceptual formation of the Young American Series. As an immigrant, she is continually fascinated and interested in the cultural and racial diversity of the United States. Through her paintings, she seeks to represent and portray our diverse society.
Nicholas Legeros: Nicholas’s three foot tall bronze sculpture, Nichole and Chipper, serves as a portrait of two children. The “children” are now 30 and 24 years old, but Nicholas chose to depict them at 8 and 12. Nichole was just becoming a young lady at that time, and Chipper was impatient but still affectionate with his older sister.
Nicholas’s sculptures can be found throughout the Twin Cities in both public and private spaces. His recent large commissions include a statue of Goldy Gopher on the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota, a sculpture of Sid Hartman for the Target Center, and a seventeen foot high statue of St. Joseph for St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul.
Aaron Kagan Putt: Aaron says his portrait work “relates to wider concerns regarding the aesthetics of our built environment.” Creating two and three-dimensional sculpted and cast reproductions, he recombine figurative and ornamental architectural details into sculptural collages. Through this work, Aaron seeks to examine these often-ignored elements of our environment, and the sometimes competing historical and cultural narratives reflected in these forms. Separated from their architectural foundations, the fragmented relics he creates are rearranged and reconfigured, gesturing towards the past, while telling new stories for the future.
Raised in Tucson, Arizona, Aaron currently lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. He has a Master of Fine Arts from the Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design at Georgia State University and is a Master of Art History candidate. Aaron has been awarded grants by the Minnesota State Arts Board, and his work has been exhibited internationally.
Charles Thysell: Charles’s approach to portraiture values the universal over the specific. “Faces,” he says, “have been part of my practice since 1985, an ongoing and ever-changing challenge. I call these works ‘faces’ because they are not strictly portraiture. Though many are drawn from memories of people I’ve known, many more are illustrated compilations; the lingering evidence of strangers, traces of passers-by. And though my faces seldom portray anyone in particular, it is my hope that all are recognizable to everyone.”