Highlighting Shifting Cultural Attitudes: “Domestic Series” by Leslie Graff

In her “Domestic Series”, artist Leslie Graff explores personal identity and experiences of daily life. The characters are young women, neatly dressed in skirts and blouses, baking, reading, taking care of kids, attending a phone call. When you look at these paintings, you get a nostalgic 1950s effect, but the females aren’t really imprisoned as dutiful housewives. Many are pretty independent, moving in and out of doors, up and down the staircase, with bags, briefcases. But yes, the artist always excludes the faces – which seems to imply that in this period of history, women didn’t have much of an individual identity of their own, even though many of them might have been comfortable and well-off.

Leslie Graff

“I deliberately crop the figures to focus on the action and metaphor of the piece,” writes Leslie. “I incorporate ‘domestic artifacts’, household objects from various decades, into the settings to blur the historical context of the scene creating tension and ambiguity. My pieces seek to ask questions of viewer and allow them to explore varied potentials of meaning, especially through the lens of their own personal experience and identification with the figure.”

She explains the themes she is interested in exploring: “The ambiguity of setting and context highlights shifts in cultural attitudes toward domestic life, relationships, and roles over the last century. Each piece in this series is titled with a phrase, alluding to a secondary metaphor or level of meaning.”

In general, Leslie uses a bold, expressive palette. She likes to focus on emotional presence, attachment, perception, cultural assumptions, constraints, connection, voice, and personal power. These are, according to her, universal elements of human experience and have relevance even as the particulars of context shift over time. She frequently uses repeated or cumulating elements or depicts seemingly mundane activities emphasising that much of the meaning and richness of life is actually found in small or ordinary things.

Leslie Graff obtained a BS (1996) and MS (2001) from Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. She draws inspiration from art nouveau, and midcentury illustration and is influenced by artists Gustav Klimt, Hans Hofmann, Wayne Thiebaud, and Coby Whitmore.  Her work has been exhibited in group and solo shows across the country in various museums, universities, and galleries and is held in many personal collections. It has been featured in books, magazines, and blogs including a profile on Forbes. Leslie has taught creative arts in California, Utah, Massachusetts, and Virginia and lectures frequently. She is active in humanitarian work and is passionate about building opportunity for others.  She lives outside of Boston, with her husband and three sons.

Links: Website (www.lesliegraff.com) | Facebook (www.facebook.com/studiooflesliegraff) | Twitter (@lesliegraffart) | Instagram (www.instagram.com/lesliegraffart) | Saatchi Art (www.saatchiart.com/lesliegraff)

Images used with permission.


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