Leslie Holt

b. 1969, Bethesda, MD
My recent work explores the often private states of extreme emotion caused by war, loss and/or mental illness. I use embroidery thread to draw and create chunks of color in combination with acrylic stains of saturated hues. The act of stitching is intimate and tender, in contrast to the stains that emphasize the unruly quality of these vulnerable states.
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois)
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois)

Leslie Holt is well known for paintings that encourage discourse with topics of psychology and mental illness, commercialism and socio-economic divides. She employs unconventional juxtapositions, alluring use of color and contrast, and elements of irony to provoke commentary and emotional response. Most recently, she explores depictions of grief and triumph in embroidered paintings inspired by Picasso’s Guernica. Her compositions on raw canvas contain elemental clouds of acrylic pigment that, like water or blood, pool and drip around embroidered female bodies borrowed from her source painting. The haunting stains represent these women’s tumultuous interior worlds, while her stunning Technicolor palette and graphic lines partially disguise an even darker reality of pain and vulnerability. Transcending boundaries of time or place, each figure represents a shared reality and breadth of symbolism both for Holt and for her audience.

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. Leslie has taught studio art, art history and art appreciation on the college level since 2001. 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. Her years-long project, Hello Masterpiece, has been collected by hundreds of Hello Kitty loving art collectors world-wide.

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Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois)
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois)
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois) detail
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois) detail
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois) detail 2
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois) detail 2
Unspeakable (in the flesh)
Unspeakable (in the flesh)
Unspeakable (wild is the wind)
Unspeakable (wild is the wind)
Unspeakable (Guernica sketch 16)
Unspeakable (Guernica sketch 16)
Unspeakable (drowning woman)
Unspeakable (drowning woman)
Unspeakable (demonic attack)
Unspeakable (demonic attack)
Unspeakable (deKooning)
Unspeakable (deKooning)
Unspeakable (catalepsie)
Unspeakable (catalepsie)
Unspeakable (catalepsie) detail
Unspeakable (catalepsie) detail
Unspeakable (masturbator)
Unspeakable (masturbator)
Unspeakable (demonic attack of Genvieve Basile Le Grand)
Unspeakable (demonic attack of Genvieve Basile Le Grand)
Unspeakable (demonic attack of Genvieve Basile Le Grand) detail
Unspeakable (demonic attack of Genvieve Basile Le Grand) detail
Unspeakable (hopeless)
Unspeakable (hopeless)
Unspeakable (hopeless) detail
Unspeakable (hopeless) detail
Unspeakable (despot)
Unspeakable (despot)
Unspeakable (the sleep of reason produces monsters)
Unspeakable (the sleep of reason produces monsters)
Unspeakable (primavera)
Unspeakable (primavera)
Unspeakable (despot 2)
Unspeakable (despot 2)
Unspeakable (ground licker)
Unspeakable (ground licker)
Unspeakable (Kollwitz 3)
Unspeakable (Kollwitz 3)
Skip To My Lou
Skip To My Lou
Atom, Atom Scattering
Atom, Atom Scattering
Unspeakable (Kollwitz 4)
Unspeakable (Kollwitz 4)
Unspeakable (Frida Column)
Unspeakable (Frida Column)
Unspeakable (Crying Woman 2)
Unspeakable (Crying Woman 2)
Unspeakable (Sabine)
Unspeakable (Sabine)
Unspeakable (Guernica Sketch 12)
Unspeakable (Guernica Sketch 12)
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois)
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 96x72
2019
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois) detail
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois) detail
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 96x72
2019
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois) detail 2
Unspeakable (hysterical arch after Bourgeois) detail 2
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 96x72
2019
Unspeakable (in the flesh)
Unspeakable (in the flesh)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 16x14
2019
Unspeakable (wild is the wind)
Unspeakable (wild is the wind)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 30x20
2019
Unspeakable (Guernica sketch 16)
Unspeakable (Guernica sketch 16)
acrylic and embroidery in canvas, 20x16
2018
Unspeakable (drowning woman)
Unspeakable (drowning woman)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2018
Unspeakable (demonic attack)
Unspeakable (demonic attack)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2018
Unspeakable (deKooning)
Unspeakable (deKooning)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2018
Unspeakable (catalepsie)
Unspeakable (catalepsie)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 48x36
2018
Unspeakable (catalepsie) detail
Unspeakable (catalepsie) detail
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 48x36
2018
Unspeakable (masturbator)
Unspeakable (masturbator)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2018
Unspeakable (demonic attack of Genvieve Basile Le Grand)
Unspeakable (demonic attack of Genvieve Basile Le Grand)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 48x36
2018
Unspeakable (demonic attack of Genvieve Basile Le Grand) detail
Unspeakable (demonic attack of Genvieve Basile Le Grand) detail
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 48x36
2018
Unspeakable (hopeless)
Unspeakable (hopeless)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2018
Unspeakable (hopeless) detail
Unspeakable (hopeless) detail
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2018
Unspeakable (despot)
Unspeakable (despot)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2018
Unspeakable (the sleep of reason produces monsters)
Unspeakable (the sleep of reason produces monsters)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 48x60
2018
Unspeakable (primavera)
Unspeakable (primavera)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 60x36
2018
Unspeakable (despot 2)
Unspeakable (despot 2)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 14x11
2018
Unspeakable (ground licker)
Unspeakable (ground licker)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2018
Unspeakable (Kollwitz 3)
Unspeakable (Kollwitz 3)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2017
Skip To My Lou
Skip To My Lou
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 10x10
2017
Atom, Atom Scattering
Atom, Atom Scattering
acrylic and embroidery in canvas, 10x10
2017
Unspeakable (Kollwitz 4)
Unspeakable (Kollwitz 4)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2016
Unspeakable (Frida Column)
Unspeakable (Frida Column)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2016
Unspeakable (Crying Woman 2)
Unspeakable (Crying Woman 2)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 20x16
2016
Unspeakable (Sabine)
Unspeakable (Sabine)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 48x36
2016
Unspeakable (Guernica Sketch 12)
Unspeakable (Guernica Sketch 12)
acrylic and embroidery on canvas, 48x36
2016