Record of Home/Hearts
January 23, 2024 - March 1, 2024
Saint John's Art Center, SJU
A portrait is both a statement and a mirror: a considered composition between participant and painter, and a reflection of ourselves (the viewer) in our particular place, headspace, and moment in time. This exchange of the gaze, a marking of time and a witnessing of one another, is one of the things that draws Leslie Barlow into her painting practice. In a unique joining of works, Leslie brings together videos and paintings from her 2021 museum exhibition Within, Between, and Beyond, with a new series of paintings created from visits and conversations with five Twin Cities based artists in 2023. While two distinct bodies of work, the throughlines of ancestral and familial bonds, identity creation and reformation, and the power of representation and reclamation of space through art and art making, can be felt throughout the exhibition.
In Within, Between, and Beyond, Barlow celebrates polyvocality, the power of many voices to shift and sustain narrative change. 16 portrait paintings and corresponding documentary videos invite us to hold space for, recognize, and reconsider our presumptions about race in Minnesota. In the series with the working title Echoes (admiration, conversation, seeing and setting free) Barlow explores creating multiple works of a few women of color in her life. In a society that minimizes the value and autonomy of Black and Brown people and the feminine, each person in this series identifies as an Artist and maker of their own path––which is a radical act. The portraits in Echoes share stories across time and space, provoking connections and questions between them. Together all of the works in this two-part exhibition become monuments to community members, and spaces to hold complexity, care, and power. As Beyoncé said, if we are going to heal, let it be glorious.