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MWPAI exhibit features art by Lesley Dill

Posted 9/21/22

Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute of Utica will present works by Lesley Dill, a New York-based artist.

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MWPAI exhibit features art by Lesley Dill

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UTICA — Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute of Utica will present works by Lesley Dill, a renowned New York-based artist who brings historical and literary figures from America’s past to life in, “Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me,” which opens to the public on Thursday, Oct. 20, with a reception from 5-7 p.m.

Lesley Dill, Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me features a collection of hand-painted and sewn textile sculptures and banners. Dill’s work carefully interweaves imagery, text, and historical visionaries into stunning three-dimensional encounters.

Gracefully suspended from the ceiling, the clothing of each figure is delicately embellished with words and symbols drawn from their writings and experiences. Hand-painted banners hang on every wall of the gallery with further texts and imagery elaborating on their stories. 

American visionaries represented in the exhibition include abolitionists Sojourner Truth, Dred Scott, and John Brown; authors Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Emily Dickinson; Sauk leader Black Hawk; Shaker religion founder Mother Ann Lee; and others. For Dill, there is a personal connection to many of the people represented in the new exhibition.

“These personas and their times stir something deep in my own family history and sense of self. I was compelled to explore this period in America’s history when limited access to a diversity of written word ignited the bravery of these figures in response to their times,” Dill said.

Munson-Williams Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Mary Murray said the Museum of Art was inspired to present the exhibition because the subject matter is at once deeply ingrained in American history and freshly interpreted by Dill.

“Lesley Dill has produced a beautiful and thought-provoking reassessment of American arts and letters,” Murray said. “This exhibition creates a contemporary perspective on ideas across several centuries as it demonstrates how far we have come as a country and how far we have yet to go.” 

Exhibition-related events include an artist lecture and open mic poetry night, both of which are free and open to the public. Dill will give a lecture at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20. A poetry night with Nomadic Voices will be from 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12.

Lesley Dill, Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me was organized by the Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa, and is made possible by Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Munson-Williams exhibition is supported by Steven and Dorian Critelli in honor of Delores Y. Critelli; and Alan and Linda Vincent.

About Lesley Dill

Lesley Dill is an American artist working at the intersection of language and fine art in printmaking, sculpture, installation and performance, exploring the power of words to cloak and reveal the psyche. Dill transforms the emotions within the writings of Emily Dickinson, Salvador Espriu, Tom Sleigh, Franz Kafka, and Rainer Maria Rilke, among others, into works of paper, wire, horsehair, foil, bronze and music — works that awaken the viewer to the physical intimacy and power of language itself. 

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