(All images in this article are from the artist's website.)
Maybe it's just the lighting at Houston Arts Alliance's space125gallery, but when I approached Leigh Ann Lester I could swear that she had an impish gleam in her eye. As I asked her about her exhibition, Beautiful Freaks/Nature's Bastards, it only seemed to get brighter.
|Mutant Spectre - Detail|
Hunting Art Prize Winner 2011
Graphite on Drafting film, 2010, 33 x 41 inches
The show consists of renderings of plants in the form of sculptures, needle work, carbon drawings, ink and pencil drawings. From 10 meters away, it's could easily be mistaken for 19th century floral etchings or the obsessive compulsive homework of a botany student. It's when I stepped closer that I began to appreciate the incredibly minute detail and precision of each piece and the subtle biological incoherence in them.
|Crocboleaparsempeustusgiaervivum Zpnaluriaspetecttusduraorum Realized|
Silk on Silk Embroidery, Antique Victorian Frame, 2008,
20" x 18"
Like a naughty, nerdy botanical illustrator Lester's very subtly blended different plants to create a series of Frankenflora as she refers to them in her statement for the show. As my eye travelled from flower to stem to flower, I slowly began to notice botanical disharmonies: completely different flowers on the same plant, different stalks and stems issuing from the same root system, various leaves from the same stem.
They're only subtle if you don't pay attention. I'm not a plant person and I could easily identify the incongruencies.
|Imitatia perfecta 2.1 - 2.4|
Carbon paper on paper, 2010, 24 x 30 inches
The gleam in Lester eye might be attributable to the fact that she won the Hunting Art Prize for 2011. However, I think it's because she knows that in this game her work makes the viewer look twice.