29 January—23 February Opening: 02 February, 5-8pm DiaLoGue with Leslie Holt & Jana Harper: 02 February, 11am
Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her (reason), she (fantasy) is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels. —Francisco Goya, Epigraph for Capricho No. 43
In “Hysterical Women,” Leslie Holt examines the first mental disorder attributed to women, and only women, through these references. Her figures are suspended and isolated, removed from their original context, and meticulously embroidered onto canvas. Aggressive stains of saturated acrylic paint hovers around each figure. The sewn marks are intimate and tender in contrast to the unruly drips and bleeding of the paint.
Referencing multiple art historical works and clinical drawings of women, Holt’s “Hysterical Women” includes the bats from Goya’s prints, Lichtenstein’s drowning woman, deKooning’s women, along with various visual references of institutionalized women often diagnosed with “hysteria” created and studied by doctors and clinicians of the 19th and 20th centuries. The exhibition explores the pitfalls of the binary of rationality versus madness within the female psyche.
Leslie Holt is from Bethesda, Maryland and in 2012 returned to the DC metro area after living in St. Louis for 20 years. She received a BFA in Painting at Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in Painting at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. She has also worked as a social worker and advocate for people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and people receiving welfare benefits. Currently she is Co-director of Red Dirt Studio, a warehouse studio for a group of independently practicing artists and creative professionals. Additionally, Holt has taught on the college level and in community settings for over 17 years.