Leah Lewman Laird
Leah Lewman is an artist whose current work focuses on the visual relationship between a viewer and a landscape when an architectural window separates the two. Lewman has exhibited her work in spaces across the country, including the 2012 National Juried Exhibition at the Art Institute & Gallery in Salisbury, MD, featuring juror Ethan Karp of the OK Harris Gallery in New York; Landscape at Escape Velocity, a 2015 Exhibition at Fine Arts Complex 1101 in Tempe, AZ; and the 2016 Wet Paint MFA Biennial Exhibition at the Zhou B. Art Center in Chicago, IL. Lewman received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting in 2013 from Salisbury University in Salisbury, MD. In May 2017, she received an MFA in 2D Studio Art at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she served for 3 years as Instructor of Record.
The relationship between landscape and architectural structure is a complex one. Humans created buildings to ultimately provide one basic function: shelter. These structures, in most cases, protect us from harsh climates and natural disaster, but their strength does reach a limit. The power of a wildfire or a flash flood, for instance has the potential to rip through entire towns and regions, destroying ever man-made thing in its path without pause. My artistic interests concentrate on the intense drive we have, as humans, to control our environments. Landscape is a beautiful thing: we open up to it, we put it on the walls of our homes and build large windows that invite it in, almost as a part of the décor. But as soon as the landscape becomes a threat, those homes become a barrier against the hazard.
I use a combination of 2D mixed media works, paintings and even installation to mimic, but also stretch and manipulate the relationship between a viewer and their surroundings. The visual turmoil and drama that is created between these two opposing forces creates a dynamic narrative in my work. Harsh, geometric lines clash with organic, yet explosive and unharnessed washes of space. Neutral tones collide with vivid color. The relationship between our man-made dwellings and natural environments can be serene in one moment, while violent and mutually threatening the next. My work strives to explore the conflict and beauty created by these two contrasting worlds.