While Leslie Stalter was born in the United States, she spent her formative years in Guyana, Mauritania, Kenya, Jordan, and Indonesia before returning Stateside. Much of her art is directly influenced by this nomadic upbringing. Using a multi-media approach and a metaphorical touch she explores issues of longing and belonging as they relate to the importance of place in the creation of identity.
She received her Bachelor’s in Art in Printmaking and Sculpture, along with a Bachelor’s in Asian Studies from the University of Virginia. She later completed her Master’s in Fine Arts in Spatial Arts at San Jose State University, San Jose, California. She’s shown her art in the Bay Area and around the Midwest, where she has been working as Professor of Art at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois since 2004.
I’ve been lately fascinated with the theory of entropy; particularly as it pertains to the idea that the known universe maintains a certain balance between order and chaos. Humankind possesses a deep-seated belief that our right to be happy, healthy, and even beautiful supersedes the needs of any other organism we share the planet with. This leads to a constant urge to learn how to manipulate the natural order ourselves. Working in tandem with the human drive for knowledge is the seemingly unending urge to take that universe apart and reassemble it, sometimes just because we can. However, could it be that the more we strive to bring the natural world under our dominion, the more disorder appears to surface elsewhere, perhaps in ways we don’t suspect.
The way the artwork is constructed - as a lavish facsimile with no real or living thing - is a metaphor for this human urge in and of itself. Nature, untouched, reveals as many astonishing functions as we can manufacture ourselves, but still the artist is not satisfied. Each time I produce a piece I am working to reconstruct the world around me, to reengineer an unsolvable problem, to lay bare certain truths while at the same time concealing others. Now that object exists, but did it need to? Is it adding to our shared human experience or is it just another tribute to human hubris?
The impotent genetically modified salmon is a new role for prophetic Brueghel’s great fish. The salmon and the insects whose offspring have been dubiously affected by eating modified plants are my main players. There are hints of test tube babies and strands of DNA. I’ve used a variety of visual cues in my artist’s vocabulary to indicate the balance, or imbalance, between stability and turmoil, the natural and the manufactured, the eternal and the ephemeral.